Supreme Court upholds California animal welfare law

  • SCOTUS ruled in favor of California's Proposition 12, passed in 2018
  • The law strengthens space requirements for animals sold by businesses
  • National Pork Producers Council, Farm Bureau Federation tried to block law

(NewsNation) — The Supreme Court upheld a California law requiring all pork sold in the state to meet certain humane standards.

NewsNation partner The Hill reports that California voters passed a measure in 2018, Proposition 12, that strengthened space requirements for “egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal” sold by businesses.

Saying the entire $26 billion-a-year industry would need to be reformed, even outside California, the Iowa-based National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation attempted to block the law.

While Californians consume 13% of the pork in the United States, a majority of it comes from hogs outside the state, the organizations argued. Most of these are not raised under conditions that would meet the California law’s standards, the Associated Press wrote.

Biden administration officials urged higher court justices to side with pork producers, the AP reported. Written filings by the administration show officials said the proposition would throw a “giant wrench” into the nation’s pork market, and that the legislation would be a “wholesale change in how pork is raised and marketed in this country.”

But in a 5-4 ruling on Thursday, the Supreme Court rejected challenges pork producers brought to Proposition 12.

Writing for the majority, Justice Neil Gorsuch said the court affirms that companies selling products have to comply with the laws of the “various states” they work in.

“Assuredly, under this Court’s dormant Commerce Clause decisions, no State may use its laws to discriminate purposefully against out-of-state economic interests. But the pork producers do not suggest that California’s law offends this principle,” Gorsuch wrote. “Instead, they invite us to fashion two new and more aggressive constitutional restrictions on the ability of States to regulate goods sold within their borders. We decline that invitation.”

“While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list,” he added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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