On Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the opposition to California’s Proposition 12, which bans the sale of pork in the state that comes from pigs kept in gestation crates. In a 5-4 vote, the court’s decision rejects a pork-industry challenge claiming the legislation would unlawfully regulate out-of-state farmers.
The proposition, an animal protection law passed in 2018 known as the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, makes it illegal to house hens, sows, and veal calves in what the state calls “a cruel manner.” It also prohibits the in-state sale of products from caged animals raised out of state, which has been a major concern of the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation.
The industry groups say that the measure violates the Commerce Clause, a provision in the U.S. Constitution that courts have previously interpreted as only allowing the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. The groups argue that the California law violates this clause by forcing farmers outside the state to modify their practices in order to sell pork in California.
They also stated that Californians only consume 13% of the pork eaten in the U.S., so most of the product comes from pigs raised outside the state, meaning that the majority are not raised under the conditions that Proposition 12 mandates.