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Dolman: Striking down soda ban, court reminds Bloomberg he's only a mayor

An undated image of twenty-ounce bottles of regular

An undated image of twenty-ounce bottles of regular and diet soda for sale at a Manhattan deli in NYC. Credit: Getty Images

Mayor Michael Bloomberg's big gulp law is finally fizzling out.

In upholding a lower court—which tossed out the mayor’s ban on sugary soft drinks of 16 ounces or more—the state's Appellate Division today underscored an idea Bloomberg, oddly, finds hard to accept: that he’s simply an elected municipal official and not the personal over-boss of the New York City's 8.4 million people.

You could see this decision coming.

During oral arguments last month, one justice noted that the city seemed to be asking for authority to regulate all manner of portion sizes—like "the number of doughnuts a person could eat, the number of scoops of ice cream" permissible under city regulations and the number of servings of fried chicken.

The rule was a supersized overstep on Bloomberg’s part. It’s one thing when the mayor is merely nagging us to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or saying we can’t light a cigarette in a crowded bar where other people have to breathe our smoke. It’s another when he arbitrarily moves to outlaw large sugary sodas because he doesn’t think we should gulp so much sugar.

Who made him lord of the soda counter?

Our own doctors—who pretty much know everything about us—don’t have that kind of enforcement power. (Thank goodness.) New Yorkers elected Bloomberg to manage the cops and fire fighters, make sure the trash gets collected on time, and in general make the city hum along.

They didn’t elect him to stand there in the shadows casting a gimlet eye on our empty-calorie counts and making new rules on a whim. It’s a slippery, greasy slope from big sodas to Triple Whoppers and super-sized fries.

Bloomberg says he’ll appeal. I'm guessing he'll ultimately fail. But in any case, the humongous sugary soft drink lives to fight another day.

I’ll tip a big old Coca-Cola to that.