In this file:
· DTN/PF: High Court Rejects Animal Cases
· HSUS: Breaking news: Supreme Court lets stand California, Massachusetts bans on cage confinement; foie gras ban
High Court Rejects Animal Cases
States Wanted Supreme Court to Rule on State Livestock Standard Laws
By Chris Clayton, DTN/The Progressive Farmer
OMAHA (DTN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied attempts to make oral arguments before the court by 15 states in lawsuits against California and Massachusetts over claims of regulating agricultural production across state lines.
Without commentary, the Supreme Court denied a pair of court cases, including Missouri and 12 other states versus California. The Supreme Court also denied a similar case led by Indiana and 12 other states against Massachusetts, though the court also noted that Justice Clarence Thomas would have granted the motion for a hearing.
The cases are similar, and most of the same states joined Missouri or Indiana in one or both cases. Missouri initiated a case against California's law involving cage standards for egg-laying hens for those eggs to be sold in California. Massachusetts has a similar law blocking the sale of eggs, pork and veal in the state based on confinement standards, as well, prompting Indiana to lead a lawsuit.
Missouri and Indiana had each argued the cases should go directly to the Supreme Court as original jurisdiction. By letting the two laws stand, the high court essentially rejected the arguments by Missouri, Indiana and other states that the two related cases are "original actions" that should first be heard by the Supreme Court rather than go through circuit and appeals decisions first.
The Supreme Court had asked the Trump administration last summer to weigh in on whether the cases should be taken directly to the high court. In a brief filed in late November, the U.S. Solicitor General stated in separate briefs that the plaintiff states' claims do not warrant the exercise of the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction authority. The Solicitor General also stated in the California case that issues around economic impact of such regulations would be better decided in a case brought by someone who is being directly regulated by the California laws.
In the case against California, the state of Missouri is joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Missouri argues that California's law requiring larger cages for egg-laying hens increases the costs of eggs for consumers everywhere. Further, the suit alleges that California is violating the interstate piece of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution by imposing its own standards on eggs shipped into the state. Federal law also sets standards for eggs shipped and sold across the country.
In their case against Massachusetts, the state of Indiana is joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The suit challenges Massachusetts' "Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act" that came from a state petition drive in 2016 and passed overwhelmingly by the state's voters, 77.7% to 22.3%. The law prevents the sale of eggs, veal and pork product from an animal "that was confined in cruel manner."
The states argue that, once the law goes into effect in 2022, it would create a significant financial burden for farmers in other states that sell into Massachusetts.
The cases were championed by national livestock groups affected by the state laws as well as advocacy organizations such as Protect the Harvest.
Over the past two cycles on the farm bill, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has tried to pass provisions in the bill that would ban states from dictating animal welfare standards for farm products produced in other states. However...
Breaking news: Supreme Court lets stand California, Massachusetts bans on cage confinement; foie gras ban
Kitty Block, Acting President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and President of Humane Society International (HSI)
January 7, 2019
In a victory that will likely prevent significant suffering for millions of farm animals, the Supreme Court today snuffed out efforts by the factory farming lobby and associated interests to overturn landmark laws against cage confinement in California and Massachusetts, and a California ban on the sale of foie gras.
The court declined to take up challenges to California and Massachusetts laws enacted in 2010 and 2016 prohibiting the sale of certain cruelly produced eggs, pork and veal — successful measures that the Humane Society of the United States and our allies worked hard to pass. This is also good news for California’s Proposition 12, which the state’s voters approved by a substantial majority two months ago. Prop 12 built on existing California law to ban the extreme confinement of egg-laying hens, mother pigs and calves raised for veal in cages so small they can barely move. Crucially, it also prohibits the sale of eggs, pork and veal from facilities that cruelly confine animals.
The Supreme Court also declined to take a case aimed at overturning another success, California’s ban on the sale of force-fed foie gras. Foie gras is produced by force-feeding a duck or goose such excessive amounts of food that his liver becomes swollen and diseased.
California lawmakers — at the behest of California voters, the HSUS, and other animal protection groups — banned the production and sale of force-fed foie gras more than a decade ago. Not surprisingly, foie gras producers sued and, on two separate appeals, lost in the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court’s decision today upholds that federal court’s most recent ruling, sparing thousands of birds from the inherent cruelty and suffering of force-feeding practices.
Voters throughout the country have consistently shown that they support animal welfare standards for products sold within their states. And courts have long held that states have the right under the Constitution to establish similar criteria. But some factory farming corporations hate the progress we’ve made in this area, and have spent years prevaricating and delaying instead of making reforms. These companies have tried to overturn the right of states to set these standards both in Congress and the courts. Despite the factory farming industry’s massive financial resources and its army of lobbyists and lawyers, we’ve repeatedly prevailed.
With our coalition partners, we have also thwarted efforts by Rep. Steve King to pass a law in Congress that would have curtailed states’ abilities to regulate agricultural products. In addition, the HSUS’s legal team has helped defeat multiple legal challenges to state farm animal protection laws.
This time, the factory farming lobby convinced the attorneys general of several states to take their argument directly to the Supreme Court. But the Solicitor General of the United States (the top lawyer for the federal government) emphatically urged the Supreme Court to reject these cases, and the court agreed.
Major progress always results in major pushback and we suspect that some cruel pork, egg, veal and foie gras producers will continue to try to undermine the will of voters. But with you at our side, we expect to prevail against all challenges to our precedent-setting work in this area. Thank you for your support, which makes these victories today — and all the progress we have achieved for hens, ducks, geese, pigs and calves who suffer as a result of intensive confinement and other factory farming practices — possible.
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