WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court of the United States rejected a challenge by the North American Meat Institute to California’s Proposition 12, a Humane Society of the United States-led voter initiative that passed in 2018. Proposition 12 is the strongest law in the world addressing farm animal confinement.
Proposition 12, which was approved by Californians in a landslide vote of 63% percent, strengthens existing California law to ban the intensive confinement of egg-laying chickens, mother pigs and calves used in the veal industry. The law also prohibits the sale in California of eggs, pork and veal from facilities that confine animals in cruel cages.
The Humane Society of the United States, along with Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Equality, Animal Outlook, The Humane League, Farm Sanctuary and Compassion in World Farming USA, intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of the State of California to defend Proposition 12, which the groups championed to pass.
The Humane Society of the United States celebrated the Court’s decision to decline to review the challenge to Proposition 12. “The Supreme Court’s outright rejection of the meat industry’s challenge to Proposition 12 is significant, and consistent with prior court rulings affirming that states have the right to pass laws protecting animals, public health and safety,” said Rebecca Cary, senior staff attorney at the Humane Society of the United States. “The meat industry should have focused on eliminating its cruel caging of animals rather than filing hopeless lawsuits trying to overturn extraordinarily popular, voter-passed animal cruelty laws.”
Courts have long held that the Constitution allows states to prohibit the sale of egregiously cruel animal products within their borders. In 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take challenges to California’s statute banning the sale of force-fed foie gras, as well as to California’s precursor law to Proposition 12 prohibiting the sale of certain cruelly produced eggs, pork and veal, and a similar Massachusetts law.