Freedom of Speech Prevails in Michigan Raging Bitch Lawsuit

Raging Bitch

Late last week, a Federal Court ruled in favor of yours truly in a landmark case for freedom of speech, proving yet again that Good Beer, No Censorship prevails. 

When Raging Bitch was released in 2009, the Michigan Liquor Control Commission promptly banned it from being sold in the state, deeming the beer “detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of the general public.” 

We didn’t take this appalling attempt at censorship laying down. We sued the State of Michigan and the individual members of the commission on the grounds of violating our right to freedom of speech. Now, over five years since the beer’s release, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the commissioners’ actions were a violation our First Amendment rights.

The Supreme Court has long established that the power to regulate alcohol, which is made at the state level, does not authorize the violation of free speech. And last week’s ruling confirms that officials who nonetheless ignore free speech are not immune from liability. 

Our CEO Jim Caruso said: “It’s taken a few years, but now appointed bureaucrats are accountable for imposing their personal agendas and prejudices on the public, and for committing the crime of violating Flying Dog’s right to freedom of speech.”

And our attorney, Alan Gura, added: “In 21st Century America, officials cannot ban words, artwork and poetry they dislike. Illegal censorship causes real harm, and Michigan’s liquor commissioners will now be made to pay real money for the damage they’ve done.” 

Commentary on this ruling would not be complete without the thoughts of Ralph Steadman, the genius responsible for both the art and poetry that adorns each bottle of Raging Bitch. Referring to a 2001 ruling against the State of Colorado for banning the words “Good Beer, No Shit” on the label of our Road Dog Porter, Ralph said:


“…and THAT is how it should be!!! Under a Michigan sky — or under a Colorado sunset!!!” 

VMS says:

I hope that you recouped adequate attorney’s fees so you did not have any out of pocket expenses on the lawsuit.

What really bothers me is that the State’s Attorney General’s office or Solicitor didn’t nip this in the bud and tell the Michigan Liquor Control Commission that what they did was a violation of your free speech rights,and to immediately approve your brand and send you an apology. What bothers me more is that they actually litigated an indefensible position for years.

This inaction forced your hand to make a federal case.

On another note, as a fan of IPAs, I hope that the quality of the brew was worth fighting for. (just kidding!) Also, exactly what is “Belgian-Style IPA”?

Serena says:

Great news, a toast to your rightful victory!

Pat Kelly says:

AWESOME. I’m buying Raging Bitch as support for you guys standing up to censorship.

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