NYC's Big Soda Ban Fizzes Out, Nixed by N.Y.'s Highest Court

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on June 27, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New York City's proposed ban on big sodas has officially fizzled, as the state's highest court declined to reinstate the law.

The ban on sugary soft drinks larger than 16 ounces was first struck down in 2013 by a lower court judge who found the law to be "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences." A state appeals court agreed last July, setting the stage for the latest case in the front of the state's highest court, called the New York State Court of Appeals.

What did judges think of NYC's soda ban this time around?

Ban Exceeds the Scope of Authority

In a 4-2 opinion, the court found that the city's Board of Health "exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority" in enacting the soda ban, reports The New York Times.

The opinion distinguished the soda ban from other recent health-focused laws passed by the city board, including a ban on trans fat in New York City restaurants, which Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. characterized as having "minimal interference with the personal autonomy" and having more direct link to public health.

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Why Doesn't the City Take Its Case to the U.S. Supreme Court?

Having exhausted its state court options, you may be wondering whether New York City will now take its case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Generally, the U.S. Supreme Court will only take cases that involve some issue of federal law. Cases such as this, which involve issues of state law and parties within a state, typically stay within the state court system. In New York, the Court of Appeals is the highest and final court.

Still, the ruling did leave an avenue open to proponents of the soda ban: It recommended taking the ban the the New York City Council, suggesting lawmakers would have the authority to enact the rule, as opposed to the city's Board of Health.

Aides to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Times that the mayor would consider that option.

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