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Liquor and The Law: Taking a Bottle of Wine to the Supreme Court

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2023 3:01 am

Liquor and The Law: Taking a Bottle of Wine to the Supreme Court

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 28, 2023 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, when Tennessee officials told Doug and Mary Ketchum they couldn't run their liquor store in Memphis, they took it to the Supreme Court... and won.

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Their quest to own their own business is a horror story of sorts, as it was necessary for the Supreme Court of the United States to make a ruling as to whether or not this couple would be allowed to pursue their American dream. Let's take a listen. Mary and I met in Salt Lake City, Utah, shortly after my wife passed away in 2009. Well, Doug and I had a lot of similar friends. We kind of knew about each other. I knew who he was, but we'd never really talked or been close. After my wife passed away, she opened up her house for our funeral memorial dinner and just got to know her then. That was actually really nice for me because I met all of Doug's family. So when we finally did start dating and decided we liked each other and we're going to get married, I already knew everybody and they already knew me.

And so it was, there was no, you know, nobody was scared of anything. Yeah, we got married and Mary was working as a telephone technician, as a network technician. She used to climb telephone poles just to give you an idea how cool she is. At first when I would go to people's houses and I'd say, you know, I'm the telephone man. It would be funny because you get this odd reaction from people.

They'd sit and look at me for a minute. Their brain couldn't quite put it together. We were in a position where she could take a little time off and I have a handicapped daughter that was with a previous marriage. And when we got married, she says, I want to be here to take care of Stacy.

So we moved Stacy in with us. Stacy is, Stacy has cerebral palsy. She was born in 1984 and November of 1985, she suffered a drowning accident in my sister's swimming pool in Arizona. And that left her with severe cerebral palsy. She is completely quadriplegic. She can't talk. She can't sit up by herself. She can't walk. She can't do anything by herself. From the first, the first year after accident, she was in a coma.

It took her an entire year to come out of her coma. And I used to have to walk her to sleep outside. She couldn't fall asleep if she was in the house. So every night for three years, I would take her outside for a walk and walk her until she'd fall asleep.

And usually it took about between a half hour to an hour. It didn't matter if it was raining or snowing or what was going on. She couldn't fall asleep unless she was outside. But after she slowly came out of her coma, she used to have a gastrostomy tube, a tube in her stomach that we had to feed her through. As she slowly came out of her coma, she started, she had to relearn everything. She had to learn how to swallow, how to, how to eat food and things like that. So it was, it was quite a process and spent a lot of years taking care of her and worrying about her.

But she is, she's an angel. She, you know, it's just the, the light of our lives. So having, having somebody that was willing to take that on and marry me, knowing that I had a handicapped daughter that required so much attention and so much work to take care of, that's a pretty big deal to me. I, you know, I overwhelmed every day at, you know, the amount of love that Mary has for her and how willing she was to take something on.

I don't think that many people could do that. In my mind, that just makes her a rock star. We got married, we moved in, we moved Stacy in with us and Mary became a full-time mom to a handicapped, handicapped daughter. She was so sweet and I could see her just giving me the eye.

Are you good enough for my dad? I said to Doug later, I said, she really needs to come and live with us because I can tell her mom's burned out and she needs a break and she's been taken care of her for a really long time. And I says, I don't, honestly, I don't know if I can marry you unless she comes and lives with us because I thought that she needed a little better care.

And I thought I could do that. So when she first came here, I had a little bit of a learning curve the first, I don't know, three months or so, but after that is really easy. And it's pretty obvious now that she should be with us. But in 2015, Stacy caught a severe case of pneumonia. And we spent about a month and a half in the hospital and the doctors told us that the air quality was so bad in Salt Lake City, especially during the winter time that we needed to get her to the facility, especially during the winter time that we needed to find a better environment for Stacy or they didn't expect that she was going to last more than about a year. So we started a search and started looking for some place to move that had cleaner air and cleaner water. Some place that would provide us with some kind of opportunity to own our own business and allow us to have a little more free time to spend with Stacy because we don't know how long she's, you know, going to live. So we ran across an opportunity in Memphis, Tennessee and found a liquor store that was for sale. We spent, I don't know, about six or eight months looking at it, negotiating with the previous owner about a sales price and trying to get all of our licensing and all that kind of stuff worked out. In June of 2016, we planned to move.

We had come to Memphis. We found a house that we liked and we made an offer on the business. Everything looked like it was going very well.

The ABC board told us that all of our information looked fine. They were going to approve us for a license at the next tiering at the end of June. And we got our city license. We got our city license in that at the same time.

Yeah. June comes and they called us. Our attorneys called us and says, oh, the ABC board says they lost your paperwork. We're going to have to refile it. So we're going to have to push it out till the end of July. So in the meantime, we've closed out our house here and moved all of our furniture and things out. Thought, okay, it's just a month away. You know, we can make it another month. So we packed, you know, we had everything packed up and we moved here and end of July comes and our attorney calls us again and says, the ABC board said there's a problem and they're putting a hold on all licenses this month.

You're going to have to wait till August. We're great. I knew something was wrong.

Yeah. We knew something was up. They were stalling.

We didn't know why. So, uh, August comes along and they said, we put a hold on licenses. We're not giving you a license. And not only that, um, we filed a lawsuit against you in court. So the issue was, and we didn't know about this at the time, but the issue was they had a rule that said you had to be a resident for two years in order to get a license.

But in order to renew the license, you had to have been a resident of Tennessee for 10 years, which effectively means that you could not get a license, a liquor license in Tennessee, unless you had been a resident for nine years. No one told us about that rule. Yeah. It took us probably six months to realize why we were getting sued.

Yeah. We were completely in the dark, had no idea why, no idea why we were being sued. And as Mary said, uh, has said numerous times, they could have just said, no, they didn't have to sue us. I thought right from the beginning, we shouldn't quit our job until we move. And when it came time to close on the house and we hadn't gotten our liquor license yet, I said, are you sure maybe we should postpone buying the house? And he goes, no, no, everything's going to be fine.

They've already told me it's going to be great. And I said, okay, so we can't, we flew out here. We signed on the house. We got, we packed up our house, delivered all this stuff here.

And, um, we flew back home and they said, well, we'll, we're going to do it next month. So when Doug said, well, a month, I says, well, can you keep your job for another month? We'll just stay here so that we have an income.

Cause I just didn't want to lose that safety net. You know, I, I wanted to make sure we had some income and he says, yeah, I'll stay here. So he stayed one more month.

We stayed a month longer, actually two months longer than we thought that we were going to because they kept postponing us. And he said, you know, we gotta go. We just, we gotta go.

We gotta go. So he did, he came out here in August all by himself with Stacy without a van. And that was before grocery stores delivered. And I would talk to him on the phone sometimes and I would think, Oh my gosh, how is he doing this?

How is he doing this? What a piece of news to learn that the arbitrary power of a state could deprive you of a livelihood and for no rational reason. And we're going to get into that in our rule of law story, the story of Doug and Mary Ketchum, the story of Kimbrough wine and spirits, and so much more here on Our American Stories. At Ford, we pride ourselves on building strong, capable vehicles, but we're only as strong as the people who drive them. People like you who don't just see an F-150 or a Ford Super Duty, but see what they can build with it. Who look at a 450 horsepower Mustang and envision where it can take them.

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Visit Bose.com forward slash I heart to say big on holiday cheer and shop sound that's more than just a present. And we return to our American stories into the story of Doug and Mary Ketchum, a couple that had to fight all the way to the Supreme Court just to run their family business. Let's pick up where we last left off. We had initially had negotiated an SBA loan with Wells Fargo and it was you know guaranteed for a certain amount of time but because of the lawsuit we lost the SBA guarantee and when we finally won in court we had to go all the way back through the authorization process to get a new loan. We lost our good interest rate and because of all the problems that we've had they thought it was a greater risk so we had to take more money out of our retirement account and we had to double the amount of down payment that we put down on the business. So that was the money that we had allocated really for operating capital and to come in and do renovations and things like that. So that put us in a tight spot financially also because we no longer had that you know couple hundred thousand dollar cushion to run the business with we had to put it as a down payment. So that's the other reason I had to really have a job is we didn't have much leeway after that.

Now we got the business but we've got a really limited amount of capital to run it with and we have to you know be very careful how we spend our money and how much income and overhead we have. So Mary's the one who's handled that and she has done an amazing job with it. We're not the kind of give up kind of people we kind of people that kind of dig our heels in so we dug our heels in and and went to court and it took us I think about a year we won our case and that was in federal court and at that point the state basically was required to give us a license. They still didn't want to. They didn't want to. They stalled again. They stalled and we we actually went to a hearing at the ABC board where the opposing attorneys got up and said we know that the federal judge has ruled that this is illegal that they can't withhold them a license but you can do what you want you don't have to give them a license if you don't want to and the the commissioner asked his attorney he says tell me your opinion if I don't give them a license what's my liability here he says well you're breaking the law you could go to jail and he said so you want me to break the law and risk going to jail by not giving them a license and and the attorney says that's that's your prerogative. That's exactly what we think you should do. Yeah so he says I'm not doing that so we were granted our license they told us they would send it to us and we still never saw it we had to get our attorney to call the state attorney general to go get the license so there was just a lot of reluctance on the part of the state to grant anybody from outside the state a license so the retailers association decided they were going to fight it took us to the supreme court we felt like we had to have representation and at that point we had a an attorney call my wife his name was Michael Bendis and he was out of Seattle Washington is with a group called the institute for justice he called her and told her we heard about your lawsuit and we have a vested interest in this case they had fought a case in the supreme court in 2005 that they had won that was very similar based on similar rulings and they wanted to make sure that that case stayed one and wanted to know if they could represent us pro bono and so Mary I started crying yeah well at first she called me she she says there's somebody gonna call you and he wants to take our case and they want to represent us pro bono and I'm like is this a joke because nobody ever calls you and say we want to go to court and we'll pay all the costs but the institute for justice was you know we we met with Michael Bendis he flew from Seattle down here to meet with us to to talk to us about our case and tell us what they do and how they do it and they were phenomenal I can't say enough about the institute for justice and how how great they were and what they did for us they took the case on they had an army of attorneys working on our case we went to DC and met the people in the in the Virginia office up there there had to be at least 100 people that were involved working on our case that's pretty overwhelming to walk into a room and see all those people that were behind the scenes that helped us that we had no idea yeah it was it was overwhelming actually yeah the the supreme court case itself we were able to fly to DC and go up and sit in the supreme court and listen to the arguments and that was also a really amazing experience well we were really lucky because we got to bring Stacey with us honestly for me that when we walked in there it was kind of like being in church it was very reverent and there was a lot of respect that when those judges come out I mean you can just see everyone in there is 100 focused on what they're saying what's going on trying to see the innuendos and the cues and the questions of everything it was really intense we we got to listen to a case before ours when they did finally get around to talking about us I just had this wow moment where I realized there some of the smartest people in our country are up there talking about me and what's going on with us and in that moment I just realized what a really big deal it was I before that I just knew that we were treading water trying to you know make make a lives for ourselves and take care of our daughter but in that moment and I when I was looking at them I was thinking wow this is going to affect the whole country this is a big deal yeah it is a big deal we had one of the attorneys sit with us and talk to us about the process and what was going on if we had questions about what the judges were asking um you know we could we could whisper to her and she'd explain it to us but the whole thing was was really phenomenal but sitting through the sitting through the hearing of the Supreme Court it became obvious to us or fairly obvious to us that the judges were were not very happy with the way the the laws were written and the way they were being handled in the in the state of Tennessee and that our rights were being violated and our rights were being violated with no just cause so they asked a lot of questions about that and asked a lot of questions about why you know it should be legal to um make somebody ask a lot of questions about um make somebody have a residency requirement when the constitution says that everybody should be able to go to any state and and work and uh have gainful employment without any kind of you know restrictions and so we you know eventually won the Supreme Court case which was great for us because we have invested every penny of our savings into this business and picked ourselves up sold our home quit our jobs moved across the country and kind of felt like we had the rug yanked out from under us twice a week vendors come in so that we can place our orders for our liquor and every time something new comes in they usually bring a open bottle and say taste this and see if you like it so it's really fun because we get to try every new product that comes out on the market not to mention over the holidays some of those things are really nice so these are gift ideas and and so we i get to drink wine and and some scotches and bourbons that you'd never think you get to you get to try all these different things and that's really fun you know honestly if i'd had any idea how much fun this was going to be i would have done this a really long time ago well number one everyone who comes in the liquor store is either in a good mood or in a bad mood and they're in a good mood when they leave if someone had told me what was going to happen to us when we first started doing this i said i would have said no i don't ever want to do that that would have been too hard it's been very very challenging but i have to say that now that we're on the other side of it i'm really glad we stuck it out and we did it i tell everybody the smartest decision i ever made in my whole entire life was when i decided to marry doug and i just feel so lucky that when we got here i was with him when this happened because i knew that we could get through it and we did and i'm really really glad the way it worked out and that justice was served and i'm grateful for ij and a terrific job on the production editing and storytelling by our own monty montgomery and what a story and we love bringing you these rule of law stories because it matters and for people who've lived in other countries and come here simply for property rights and the enjoyment the quiet enjoyment of owning something you own in a good mood you own and not having the state just take it from you in many parts of the world that is how people live from day to day there is no rule of law and in the end it's very hard to proceed with a business or any other enterprise and what wonderful people we met doug and mary ketchum you just love them they're the heart and soul of the country and look what mary did marrying doug and taking on the responsibility of that beautiful girl stacy and then just moving everything on behalf of their daughter that's why they end up in memphis to begin with and here come these state laws that say nine years and what's that about well it's about protectionism and it's about well the thing that many people hate in this country which is crony capitalism and big companies or big interest groups stopping a small person from doing their business and thank goodness for places like the institute for justice who fight for the rights of property owners who can't afford to litigate against these bigger interests and my goodness imagine being in the u.s supreme court and having your case matter not just for you but for every other small business that gets bullied by some state board or from some silly state law the story of the ketchums and in the end the story of rule of law prevailing here on our american stories it is the season of making the perfect wish list and the perfect playlist with bows quiet comfort ultra earbuds and headphones breakthrough immersive audio uses specialized sound to bring your fave holiday classics to life and world-class noise cancellation ensures a not so typical silent night and an epic holiday party of one it's everything music should make you feel taken to new holiday highs visit bows.com 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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-28 04:40:21 / 2023-11-28 04:50:40 / 10

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