Guzzlers prevailed today as New York's highest court refused to reinstate New York City's ban on the sale of big sodas, ruling that the city's health department overstepped its bounds when it approved the 16-ounce cap on sugary beverages. The court largely ignored the merits of the ban in the 20-page ruling, but determined the city's Board of Health engaged in policy-making, and not simply health regulations, when it imposed the restrictions on restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums, and street cart vendors.
The case was decided 4-2. In the majority opinion, Judge Eugene Piggott Jr. wrote that city health regulators appeared to carefully weigh the economic, social, and health implications of the ban—a policy function that Piggott wrote was not the health board's to exercise. The two dissenting judges countered that the judiciary shouldn't "step into the middle of a debate over public health policy." The city hasn't said whether it plans to try to appeal to the US Supreme Court, but such an appeal would be unlikely to be accepted anyway, because the case centers on local issues rather than federal ones. (Read more soda ban stories.)