New York Soda Ban In Court
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM New York Times
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s ballyhooed and much-criticized attempt to limit the size of sugary drinks in New York City is set to be reviewed by the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, the city announced on Thursday, offering a final chance to salvage a plan that has twice been rejected by judges as improper.
But the fate of the proposal now lies squarely in the hands of Mr. Bloomberg’s successor. The Court of Appeals is not planning to take up the case until next year, after Mr. Bloomberg is out of office, leaving the decision to pursue the case up to the next mayor.
Bill de Blasio, the Democratic nominee for mayor and the overwhelming front-runner in the polls, had been a consistent and vocal endorser of the soda-size restrictions, in a rare point of harmony with a mayor whose policies he has ferociously criticized. Two months ago, Mr. de Blasio said in an interview that Mr. Bloomberg was “right on this issue,” adding, “A ban on large sugary drinks is an important part of any public health agenda.”
On Thursday, however, the de Blasio campaign offered an ambiguous response to questions about whether he would press the appeal.
“Bill supports the ban on large sugary drinks; as mayor, he would review the status of the city’s litigation,” a spokesman, Dan Levitan, wrote in an e-mail. Mr. Levitan declined to elaborate.
The Republican nominee for mayor, Joseph J. Lhota, said emphatically on Thursday that if elected, he would withdraw the city’s appeal, allowing the proposed regulations to die.
The rules on sugary drinks were announced last year as a signature initiative of Mr. Bloomberg’s health-oriented City Hall, and they prompted worldwide debate about the link between sweet beverages and obesity.
But the plan proved unpopular with New Yorkers, who bristled at its nanny-state restrictions, and it was furiously attacked by the soft drink industry, which stood to lose millions if it came to pass.
The industry, along with allies including the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P., sued, and successfully persuaded a state judge to throw out the plan on the grounds that it was an unlawful overreaching by the city’s Board of Health. A midlevel appellate court agreed.
Mr. Bloomberg and the soft drink industry issued statements on Thursday, each saying it was “confident” its side would eventually prevail at the Court of Appeals.