The Pennsylvania Supreme Court announced yesterday, in a 4-2 majority opinion, that the Philadelphia sweetened beverage tax is constitutional.
The court heard oral arguments in the case of Lora Jean Williams et al. v. City of Philadelphia et al, on May 15. The American Heart Association, along with 15 other leading national and local health groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief which made the case for the constitutionality of the tax and provided scientific evidence of the severe consequences of sugary drinks and their impact in Philadelphia.
Following the announcement of the decision, American Heart Association CEO Nancy Brown released this statement:
“Today’s Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of Philadelphia’s sweetened beverage tax is a major victory for the city’s children and families. The decision, which backs two previous lower court rulings, reaffirms a simple truth: Philadelphians, through their elected local officials, have the right to enact measures they feel are necessary to protect the health of their community and allow public investments in critical local programs.
The beverage industry may have lost in Pennsylvania’s courts, but they’re still trying to win in Pennsylvania’s legislature by pushing a bill that would take away the ability of communities to implement local solutions for local issues. Cities, towns, and counties throughout Pennsylvania have a long and rich history of making the best decisions for their communities. To take that independence away simply because the beverage industry opposes policies that threaten its profit margins could not be more wrong on the merits or more cynical in its approach.
Through this exercise of local control and democracy, Philadelphians have enabled thousands of children attending high quality pre-K programs, more community schools, and upgrades to city libraries, parks, and playgrounds. Every community in Pennsylvania should have the right to make those decisions and reap the resulting health and economic benefits. The American Heart Association will continue to stand up for the right of all Pennsylvanians to decide what’s best for their communities.”