Big Gulps can remain on the menu in New York City.
The New York Court of Appeals ruled Thursday not to reinstate the ban on super-sized soft drinks that then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg supported two years ago.
In its 20-page ruling, the court said that in adopting the "Sugary Drinks Portion Cap Rule," which would have capped sugary beverages at 16 ounces, the city Board of Health "exceeded the scope of its regulatory authority."
With the rule, the board went beyond simply making health regulations, but moved into policy-making with the rules that would have affected restaurants, delis, movie theaters, stadiums and street cart vendors. By doing that "the Board of Health engaged in law-making beyond its regulatory authority," the court said.
Businesses including restaurants, theater owners, stores and beverage companies had sued to block the restrictions, but New York officials had hoped that the Court of Appeals would overturn a lower court's injunction.
In oral arguments earlier this month, attorneys for the city argued that sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugar in the American diet. They argued the restrictions were based on science, and weren't a true ban, only a limit on cup size.
Several judges on the Court of Appeals questioned where the board would draw the line. Judge Eugene Piggott Jr. asked whether triple-decker burgers would be next. Judge Victoria Graffeo questioned the limit in light of exclusions like mixed coffee drinks loaded with more than 800 calories.
According to the American Beverage Association, New York City is the only jurisdiction attempting such a restriction, though several others around the country have tried and failed to impose special taxes on sugary drinks.
"We are disappointed in the Court's decision," said New York City Law Department corporation counsel Zachary W. Carter in a statement. "We feel that this initiative was a valid exercise of the Board of Health's authority. Given the magnitude of this epidemic, we have no doubt that the Board will continue to address the obesity crisis and the role of over-consumption of sugary drinks."
Health commissioner Mary Bassett said in a statement that the ruling "does not change the fact that sugary drink consumption is a key driver of the obesity epidemic, and we will continue to look for ways to stem the twin epidemics of obesity and type 2 diabetes by seeking to limit the pernicious effects of aggressive and predatory marketing of sugary drinks and unhealthy foods."
Contributing: The Associated Press