Judge Cans Soda Ban
By MICHAEL HOWARD SAUL
Updated March 11, 2013, 10:33 p.m. ET
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was dealt a stinging blow on Monday when a state Supreme Court Judge quashed his plan to ban the sale of large sugary drinks in the city’s restaurants and other venues.
At a late afternoon news conference, Mr. Bloomberg and the city’s top lawyer, Michael Cardozo, said they believed the judge erred in his ruling and vowed to appeal. The decision was both lauded and criticized by city officials and others.
Judge Tingling determined that Mr. Bloomberg exceeded his authority by sidestepping the City Council and placing the issue before the city’s Board of Health, a panel whose members were each appointed by the mayor.
Jennifer Pomeranz, director of legal initiatives at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, said she believes there is no legal difference between the trans-fat ban and the sugary beverage serving size restriction.
“The judge got it wrong,” she said. “The authority of the department of health is the exact same authority [in both cases]. It doesn’t make sense to me that the trans-fat ban is legal, and they struck this down.”
While the Board of Health did approve the trans-fat ban, the City Council later voted 47-1 to incorporate the ban into the administrative code, providing express legislative approval of the board’s actions.
I wish I could rejoice that this decision was a principled blow to elitist excess, but it looks more like a, “You crossed your T’s before you dotted your I’s,” decision. OTOH, should this ruling stand, it at least would force further nannyism to go through a City Council whose members have to listen to and “face” the voters. Not huge consolation in that, though.
Free the Big Gulp!