SCOTUS Could (and Should) Repeal California’s Animal Rights Law

The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a significant challenge to a terrible, regressive California animal rights law that violates the US Constitution, fairness and common sense. The challenge was deposit by the biggest in the country pork producers, most of whom may no longer be able to supply pork to the California market due to Proposal 12an animal rights law passed by California voters in 2018.

At its most basic level, this case is about Prop targets. 12: farmers raising livestock outside of California for consumers in California. But, as I have detailedGiven California’s gigantic population and the impact of the state’s food economy and regulations on the rest of the nation, this case concerns farmers, retailers, restaurant owners and consumers alike. Iowa, South Dakota or North Carolina than those in California.

Like I Explain earlier this year, Proposal 12 was a California ballot measure that passed in 2018 by nearly two-thirds of voters in the state. The initiative, backed by many of the nation’s largest animal rights groups, requires that indoor confinement spaces for livestock whose meat or eggs will be sold in California be large enough for the animals to have enough space to lie down, turn over and spread out. their wings. The law provides for fines and possible prison terms for offenders.

Prop. 12 definition of “cruelly confined“includes confinement of a veal calf in a space less than 43 square feet; a breeding pig in a space less than 24 square feet; or a laying hen in a space less than 144 square inches. Sellers of meat and other products made from these animals can be held liable in California under the law if they knowingly sell products — a pork chop, for example — that don’t comply with the law.

While Proposition 12 will increase the prices California consumers pay for many animal products, its real impact is, as expected, felt outside the state.

“The Proposition 12 requirements apply to Covered Products sold in the State, whether or not the Products originate from Covered Countries. animals raised on farms in or outside of California,” a Prop 12 state explanatory details (emphasis mine). “For example, a breeding pig confined in another state must be housed under Proposition 12 if its offspring will be used for covered pork products sold in California for human consumption.”

It’s scandalous. It’s even more scandalous when you know that California imports almost everything (99.87 percent) of his pork. And although Californians consume about 15 percent of the nation’s pork, only about 4 percent of pork producers nationwide currently meet California standards.

It’s almost as if Prop. 12 was passed to crush the domestic pork market. Fortunately, the US Constitution prohibits such laws.

In their lawsuit, pork producers are right Argue that Proposition 12 is unconstitutional because it created “dramatic economic effects outside the state and requires[s] changes in the domestic agricultural industry [that] violate the dormant Commerce Clause.” (The dormant Commerce Clause, I Explainprohibits states from passing laws and regulations, such as Prop. 12, which impose unfair burdens on interstate commerce.)

A decision in this case could have a dramatic impact on other laws nationwide, including California’s equally unconstitutional foie gras ban and a Massachusetts law similar to Prop. 12. Indeed, the first case listed in the Supreme Court of Pork Producers petition is a lawsuit challenging California’s foie gras ban. I’ve written at least as much as anyone on this case, including numerous columns and a Supreme Court amicus brief in favor of foie gras producers (which I submitted, as counsel for the case, on behalf of the Reason Foundation, which published this site, and the Cato Institute).

“California’s foie gras ban is a major example of a food or farm law that erects unconstitutional obstacles and barriers to the national food economy. But the law is not isolated. Other recent California laws demonstrate both comparable intent and impact. Worse still, other states have begun to follow California’s lead, passing laws that pose similar challenges to the economy’s existence. national food,” I explained in the amicus brief. “If this Court permits states to prohibit interstate commerce in poultry and other animal products that are inspected and found to be safe, pure and properly labeled under federal law, then laws like these from California, Massachusetts and other states could ultimately destroy our nation’s food market. »

I’m a big fan of all types of food economies — local, state, regional, national, and international — and I think each plays a key role in making America’s food supply abundant, resilient, and responsive to consumer demands. If we are to continue to have a robust national food economy, the Supreme Court must strike down Proposition 12.

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