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California Has Been Passing Tough Animal Welfare Laws. A Court Just Handed the State a Big Victory.



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For more than a decade, foie gras producers have been fighting to stop California from banning foie gras.
Their argument: that some states imposing different, higher animal welfare standards violates the commerce clause of the US Constitution (which leaves the regulation of interstate commerce up to the federal government), or alternately violates federal laws about the production of poultry products.
They haven’t met with much success in court. While one federal judge overturned the foie gras ban in 2015, that decision was later overturned by the Ninth Circuit, and the ban went back into effect when the Supreme Court declined to hear the case last year. The courts have also struck down trickery such as restaurants giving away foie gras with purchase of an expensive tasting menu. After that, foie gras advocates sued again — and last week, the courts found against them again.
The latest ruling reaffirms that the federal government doesn’t have the authority to stop states from imposing their own animal welfare requirements. And while foie gras is a tiny fraction of animal farming, the ruling has implications for more expansive welfare laws, too.
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