Atlas Brew Works sued the United States on January 15, 2019 in the DC District Court. Atlas is a brewer based in Washington, DC and argued that the law does not allow the government to, at the same time, require a label approval for beer, when the shutdown makes it impossible to obtain such an approval.
As of this writing, Google has 48,600 articles about the controversy, so I will refrain from summarizing the case, or trying to guess who will win. Instead, I will set out some of the juiciest morsels, from the fascinating arguments presented by both sides. On one side is the famous lawyer Alan Gura, representing the beer company. On the other side is the Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason T. Cohen. The judge is the hugely accomplished Christopher R. Cooper.
Atlas’ complaint, filed January 15th, begins:
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The First Amendment never “shuts down.” … The [FAA Act] subjects Atlas to criminal penalties should it ship beer with unapproved labels in interstate commerce. But Congress has not enacted legislation funding the issuance of [COLAs] for beer labels at the present time. There is no telling whether or when such legislation might be forthcoming, or how long it might take the government to approve COLA applications...