- The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed the pork industry’s challenge to California Proposition 12 in a 5-4 ruling.
- write in opinion to the courtJudge Neil Gorsuch Pork producers told the court, “We have asked for two new constitutional limits that are more aggressive to states’ ability to regulate goods sold within their borders.” We decline the invitation. The ruling was divided along non-ideological lines, splitting judges away from the usual liberal-conservative line.
- The ruling is a legal victory for animal rights activists who have long argued that the meat industry doesn’t have enough space for livestock such as breeding pigs to roam.at least 9 other states have banned Or restricted gestation crates for pigs.
California law, adopted in 2018 by 62% of Californians, requires minimum moving space for livestock sold in the state. Under state law, breeding a pig requires him to have 24 square feet of moving space and a minimum of floor space. Calves need 43 sq. ft. and layer hens need 144 sq. inches.
The National Pork Producers Council (NPCC) argued that the law forces farmers to comply with California law to sell pork in populous states, threatening their livelihoods. The industry argued that the law would force farmers to “spend millions of dollars” to build new pens for their pigs.
Justices Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett dominated the court’s ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson, Brett Kavanaugh, and Samuel Alito.
“The Constitution addresses many serious issues, but the types of pork chops California merchants can sell are not on that list,” Gorsuch said.
In his dissenting opinion, Kavanaugh argued that the law would have far-reaching ramifications and cost farmers in pork-producing states such as Iowa and Indiana billions of dollars.
“California’s laws therefore closed the market for commodities produced by each state in a manner contrary to its own moral or policy preferences, and in doing so allowed other states to comply with these idiosyncratic demands. It could herald a new era of de-facto enforcement,” Kavanaugh said. .
The Supreme Court’s retreat from typical ideological divisions shows the diverse perspectives of its judges on the subjects of animal welfare and state trade. This peculiar rift was illustrated last year when the Biden administration backed a challenge to Proposition 12. This drew criticism from Democrats such as New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. We had an argument last June It claimed that the administration sided with “corporate meat packers and their brutal factory farm system.”
In more than two hours of oral argument last October, the judges told lawyers representing the hog industry and California about the potential impact of the law on farmers and how products made in one state could be sold in another. I pursued the possibility of being sold in.
California Attorney General Michael Mongan, speaking in court on behalf of the state, said small farmers outside of the state could actually benefit from the law.
“Smaller pork producers can choose whether or not to get a significant premium for producing this type of specialty.” [crate-free pork] Or continue to produce for the other 49 states,” Mongan said.
Animal rights advocacy group Humane Society congratulated the ruling. In an emailed statement to Food Dive, the group called Proposition 12 “the strongest animal welfare law in the country.”
“We will not stop fighting until the pork industry stops its cruel and reckless practice of locking sows in cages so small they can’t even turn around,” said Kitty Bullock, the group’s CEO. Told. “Pork industry leaders waste so much time and money fighting this common-sense measure to stop products that inflicted unrelenting and unbearable animal suffering from being sold in California. That is amazing.”
and statementthe NPPC argued that the court’s decision would have devastating effects on small-scale livestock producers.
NPPC Chairman Scott Hayes said: “If we allow the state to go too far, it will drive up prices for consumers, drive small farms out of business and drive more consolidation.” “We are still evaluating the court’s full opinion to understand all implications. The NPPC will continue to fight misregulation for our pig farmers and American families.”