National Review Online | Esenberg, Curtis: Our Fight for ‘Butter Freedom’

Rick Esenberg and Jakes Curtis write at National Review Online about our pending case to #freethebutter, and stop Wisconsin’s war on Kerrygold butter.

Apart from the obnoxious notion that Wisconsin consumers must be told by the government whether a food “tastes good,” the law has prevented Wisconsin grocers from selling certain butters — most notably those produced internationally that cannot be readily graded. The most prominent example is the popular Kerrygold butter, made in Ireland. Kerrygold claims to produce a “silky and creamy” butter with a “healthy, golden yellow” glow.

One might think that Wisconsin consumers and retailers are more than capable of deciding how “silky” and “golden yellow” Kerrygold butter really is. But they won’t get a chance unless a bureaucrat gets to try it first and stamp his opinion on the package. As a result, our clients and other Wisconsinites have been forced to travel to other states — often to Illinois — on “Kerrygold runs” in search of the creamy contraband. This isn’t new to Wisconsin. In the mid 20th century, its citizens made “oleo” runs to Illinois because state law prohibited the sale of margarine colored yellow.

Our lawsuit — aided by the preternatural silliness of the law and the fact that it was announced on St. Patrick’s Day — has resulted in a significant amount of attention and generated a bit of fun. We’re happy go along and acknowledge that butter freedom may not be the most pressing civil-rights issue of our time. But economic liberty is. When the state erects artificial barriers to the entry of goods and services, businesses and consumers bear the ultimate burden. In the most extreme examples, individuals are prevented from earning a living, and consumers are prohibited from obtaining the most competitive prices for goods and services.

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