Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
The law was set to go into effect tomorrow.
A state judge invalidated New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large, sugary drinks Monday, ruling that the controversial regulations were "fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences."
The ban on beverages over 16 ounces would have gone into effect tomorrow, with a three-month grace period for non-compliance. The administration has announced it will appeal the decision.**
The ruling, from New York Supreme Court Judge Milton Tingling, is a surprise defeat for Bloomberg, who has had his way with most city policies, from rewriting term limits to pushing through a series of public health ordinances.
While bans on trans fats and smoking in city parks and beaches have since largely been accepted, the soda ban has inspired particular outrage from libertarians, representatives of the soft drink industry, and New Yorkers who feel the mayor's dose of paternalism is not to their taste. Opponents had taken to referring to the mayor as "Nanny Bloomberg," and even illustrating that analogy.
But the ruling does not seem to have turned on principles of personal freedom; rather, Judge Tingling wrote that "uneven enforcement" and "loopholes" would ultimately defeat the law's stated purpose. It had been previously remarked that chains like 7-11 would be exempt from the law, which was criticized for placing a particular burden on small businesses. He also expressed some skepticism about the expanded powers of the New York City Board of Health, which he wrote had the potential to become an "administrative Leviathan."
*Update: This post has been updated with a link to Judge Tingling's ruling.
**Update: The post has been updated to report the administration's response.