The Fence Post: Supreme Court denies petition to overturn California egg sales law

The Supreme Court on Tuesday denied a petition for certiorari by six agriculture state attorneys general and governors that sought to overturn California’s landmark egg sales law, AB 1437.

The denial in a case identified by the lead state of Missouri but also brought by Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Kentucky and Iowa was a victory for advocates for spacious housing systems for birds and a loss for other states that produce eggs using conventional housing and still want to sell those eggs in California.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said, "We commend today’s decision, which sends a clear message that other states have no business trying to drag down California’s high ethical standards in preventing cruelty and reducing food safety risks."

HSUS noted that, "in 2010, the California legislature passed AB 1437, which stipulated that eggs sold in the state of California must come from housing systems that do not cruelly confine birds. The law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, the same day as the related ballot measure, Proposition 2, which was supported by nearly two-thirds of California voters, and which mandated that laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves to ‘stand up, lie down, turn around freely, and extend their limbs.’"

HSUS also noted that Proposition 2 has already been upheld against three separate challenges in state and federal court from egg companies who want to keep hens jammed in cages so tightly they can barely move.

The ruling reaffirms a November 2016 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision, in which the court determined that speculative harm to a few producers in plaintiff states was not enough to bring a case in the name of all of the citizens of those states, HSUS continued. That court found that the law does not unlawfully discriminate against out of state producers because it does not distinguish among eggs based on their state of origin.