The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Wednesday denied a request that it immediately take up a legal challenge to the city's new tax on sweetened beverages.
The decision means that Common Pleas Court will have to rule on the case before it can be appealed.
The tax, which is to go into effect Jan. 1, will add 1.5 cents per ounce to the cost of most sugary and diet beverages. Mayor Kenney plans to use the revenue to expand early-childhood education and on other initiatives.
A group of residents, businesses, and organizations, including the American Beverage Association, has challenged the tax as unconstitutional. Expecting the case to wind up before the state Supreme Court, lawyers representing the plaintiffs asked that court to hear it immediately.
That it decided not to is "neither good nor bad," said Shanin Specter, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.
"We're happy Judge Glazer will rule by the end of the year," Specter said, referring to Common Pleas Court Judge Gary S. Glazer.
Glazer has told attorneys he plans to have a resolution by Jan. 1.
The city has until Nov. 14 to file a response to the latest filing from the plaintiffs. After that, Glazer could decide or set up arguments.
"If the city loses, the city can't enforce the tax," Specter said. "If we lose, the tax will be collected pending the appeal."
The tax, applied at the distributor level, is expected to generate about $92 million a year.
A city Law Department spokesperson said the city was pleased with the decision.
"We have complete confidence in the Court of Common Pleas and the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court to decide this matter before review by the Supreme Court," the spokesperson said in an email. "For the children of Philadelphia, it is more important that this case be decided on a full record than that it be decided quickly."