Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan to ban large sugary drinks from restaurants and other eateries was rejected on Thursday by the state's high court, which ruled the local health board overstepped its authority in approving the regulation.
The 4-2 ruling from the state Court of Appeals largely upheld similar decisions last year by a state court judge and a mid-level appeals court that found the law violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government.
"By choosing among competing policy goals, without any legislative delegation or guidance, the Board engaged in law-making and thus infringed upon the legislative jurisdiction of the City Council of New York," wrote Judge Eugene Pigott for the majority.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bloomberg's successor, had decided to pursue the city's appeal. But the "sodaban," as it was commonly known, was closely associated with Bloomberg, who previously banned cigarettes from public parks and bars and trans fats from restaurants in a broad effort to combat public health problems through regulation.
Thursday's decision is a victory for the soft drink and restaurant industries, which challenged the law in court as an illegal overreach.
It also appears likely to limit sweeping health initiatives in the future, curtailing the power of the health board to enact such laws without input from state or city lawmakers.
City officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision.
In a statement, a spokesman for the American Beverage Association, a soft drink industry group that sued the city over the law, said, “It would have created an uneven playing field for thousands of small businesses in the city and limited New Yorkers’ freedom of choice. With this ruling behind us, we look forward to collaborating with city leaders on solutions that will have a meaningful and lasting impact on New Yorkers and families across the country.”