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Thread: Seneca seller wins stay of new U.S. law on tobacco

  1. #1
    Member steven's Avatar
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    Seneca seller wins stay of new U.S. law on tobacco

    A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order Monday allowing a Seneca Nation mail-order cigarette retailer to supply tobacco products across the country without having to meet the requirements of a new federal law that took effect at midnight.


    District Judge Richard J. Arcara granted the motion as part of the retailer's lawsuit against the U.S. government. The retailer, Red Earth, which does business as Seneca Smokeshop, has asked the court to declare the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act unconstitutional.


    Seneca Smokeshop, a 10-year-old business, employs 17 people and sells cigarettes in 46 states. It is owned by Aaron J. Pierce, a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians.


    Without the restraining order, the law would have immediately crippled the business, said Lisa A. Coppola, the retailer's lawyer.


    "It's no small thing for him to lose his business entirely," Coppola told Arcara during a hearing Monday afternoon in federal court.


    The so-called PACT Act, signed into law in March, bans the U.S. Postal Service from shipping cigarettes and affects the mail-order cigarette business in other ways.


    It requires those selling cigarettes on the Internet to pay all federal, state, local or tribal tobacco taxes, and to affix tax stamps before delivering any tobacco products to any customer.


    Retailers also have to register with the state where they are based and make periodic reports to state tax collection officials. Sellers also must check the age and identities of customers when tobacco products are purchased and when they are delivered.


    The restraining order will remain in effect for 14 days, unless the court rules earlier on the retailer's motion to keep the federal government from enforcing the new law throughout duration of the lawsuit. The judge ordered both sides to return to court July 7 for a hearing on that request.
    In seeking the restraining order, lawyers for Seneca Smokeshop did not address the Postal Service ban, but focused on how the retailer would have to contend with thousands of state and local taxing jurisdictions while selling cigarettes across the country.


    "We're not talking about only 46 states or a couple of taxing jurisdictions," Coppola told Arcara.


    "There are extraordinarily serious problems with the act that have nothing to do with the Postal Service," Coppola said after learning of Arcara's ruling.


    Arcara found the smoke shop demonstrated it would have suffered irreparable injury without the restraining order. The judge also found the retailer demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of its claim that the PACT Act violates various provisions of the Constitution, including the commerce clause, the 10th amendment, the due-process clause and the equal protection clause.


    In his written order, Arcara said he acted "in the public interest because the public favors restraining enforcement of statutes that appear to violate provisions of the Constitution."


    Arcara noted the U.S. Attorney's Office had failed to file a timely response to the retailer's motion for a restraining order.


    The retailer's lawyer filed court papers Friday afternoon, both in Buffalo and Washington, D.C.


    Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard D. Kaufman and Mary Fleming asked Arcara to hold off on ruling for at least a couple of days so they could better prepare a response.


    "He'd only lose a couple of days of business," Kaufman said about how such a delay would affect the retailer.


    "How would you like to lose a couple days of pay, Mr. Kaufman?" Arcara replied
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    Member dtwarren's Avatar
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    Judge upholds ban on mailing of cigarettes but rejects tax collection

    From: http://www.buffalonews.com/city/article86232.ece


    Author: Brian Connolly

    * Published Date: Jul 30, 2010 3:04 PM
    * Last Updated: Jul 30, 2010 4:36 PM

    A judge today upheld the federal government's right to ban the mailing of cigarettes by Seneca Nation tobacco businesses, but rejected for the time being the collection of taxes on those cigarettes.

    The ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara upholds the crux of a new federal law that Seneca business owners say will cripple their mail-order operations.

    In short, the judge banned the sale of tobacco products through the mail but allowed for other forms of interstate sales of tax-free cigarettes. Under the law, buyers would still be required to pay the taxes on those cigarettes.

    The Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act, or PACT Act, is viewed by both critics and supporters as sweeping legislation with billions of dollars in tax revenue and thousands of jobs at stake.

    Arcara, in his decision, rejected a request by Seneca businesses for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the government from enforcing a law that applies to all businesses that mail tobacco products.

    The judge, however, did issue an injunction against one aspect of the law -- the right of federal, state and local governments to collect taxes on other forms of interstate sales of tobacco products.
    “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1787

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    Member dtwarren's Avatar
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    Brief on appeal of the United States: http://turtletalk.files.wordpress.co...-red-earth.pdf

    American Cancer Society's brief: http://turtletalk.files.wordpress.co...icus-brief.pdf

    NY Association of Convenience Store's brief: http://turtletalk.files.wordpress.co...icus-brief.pdf
    “I own I am not a friend to a very energetic government. It is always oppressive.” – Thomas Jefferson, Letter to James Madison, 1787

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