FROM THE WHITE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 73CV-17-502]
HONORABLE CRAIG HANNAH, JUDGE.
Brennan, pro se appellant.
Jorgensen, Association of Arkansas Counties, for appellee.
F. VIRDEN, JUDGE.
Brennan challenges the White County Circuit Court's order
dismissing his request for declaratory judgment regarding the
constitutionality of the White County ordinance prohibiting
the manufacture and sale of alcohol and the
"local-option" set forth in Arkansas Code Annotated
sections 3-8-801 to -811. We affirm.
September 11, 2017, Brennan filed a complaint in the White
County Circuit Court requesting that the court determine the
constitutionality of the local-option framework allowing
White County citizens to vote to prohibit the manufacture and
sale of alcoholic beverages. In his complaint, Brennan
asserted that the local-option framework is unconstitutional
on its face and violates his substantive due-process rights;
namely, his right to contract and association. Brennan, who
lives in Searcy, asserted that he wishes to apply for a
liquor license and open a package store in his home town,
that he wants to consume alcohol at restaurants in Searcy,
and that he would like the option to purchase alcohol at
stores without having to travel outside his county. Brennan
contended that prohibition of the sale of alcohol in White
County negatively affects his ability to safely travel along
the county highways, and he suffers an "unnecessarily
increased risk of being involved in an alcohol-related, fatal
crash." Brennan also argued that in dry counties,
drug-related crime constitutes a greater threat to the public
than in counties where the sale of alcohol is legal.
County filed a motion to dismiss Brennan's complaint,
arguing that the local-option framework is constitutional as
a matter of law. Brennan responded to the motion to dismiss,
contending that there is no governmental purpose furthered by
the local-option framework. Brennan urged the circuit court
to apply the heightened level of scrutiny provided for in the
Arkansas Constitution to determine the constitutionality of
the statutes. White County countered Brennan's argument
by explaining the myriad government interests served by the
local-option laws, including the promotion of public health,
reduction in crime and related law-enforcement costs,
increase in worker productivity, and reduction of health-care
costs. White County also asserted that under either the
Arkansas Constitution or the federal Constitution, the
rational-basis test is the appropriate test for ascertaining
the constitutionality of the statutes.
April 24, 2018, the circuit court entered an order dismissing
Brennan's complaint. The circuit court determined that
White County's local-option ordinance and the statutory
framework allowing the local option are subject to the
rational-basis test under the due-process provisions of both
the Arkansas Constitution and the U.S. Constitution and that
the local-option framework is constitutional as a matter of
law. Brennan timely filed his notice of appeal.
appeal, Brennan asserts that both the statutory local-option
framework and the local prohibition of alcohol sales in White
County violate citizens' "rights of contract and
association" and "the right to engage in otherwise
legal business activities and relations[.]" He argues
that no legitimate state interest is furthered by these laws
and that police power may not be used to impose the
"majority morality" on those whose conduct does not
harm others. Brennan also asserts that the Arkansas
Constitution requires a heightened level of scrutiny for the
state's use of police power.
Brennan argues that if this court decides there is a
legitimate state interest involved here, the local-option
framework is an arbitrary and ineffective way of advancing
those interests; thus, the framework is unconstitutional.
Lastly, Brennan contends that subsequently enacted
legislation fundamentally conflicts with the local-option
framework, rendering the local option "the quintessence
of irrational." We affirm.
Standard of Review
court reviews a circuit court's decision to grant a
motion to dismiss pursuant to Arkansas Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) by treating the facts alleged in the
complaint as true and by viewing them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Archer v. Sigma Tau Gamma
Alpha Epsilon, Inc., 2010 Ark. 8, at 4, 362 S.W.3d 303,
306. In viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff, the facts should be liberally construed in the
plaintiff's favor. Id. Our rules require fact
pleading, and a complaint must state facts, not mere
conclusions, in order to entitle the pleader to relief.