US Supreme Court Upholds California Foie Gras Ban
California restaurateurs as well as producers across the country have been fighting the state’s foie gras ban since it was enacted in 2004. That fight escalated dramatically when the law was finally put into full effect and enforced in 2012 – out-of-state foie gras proponents including New York’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras and Canada’s Association des Éleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Québe filed a lawsuit against the state of California calling the law prohibitively vague, damaging to California businesses, a violation of federal commerce laws, and above all unconstitutional.
Ever since then, the case has been working its way up and up through the court system – but now it has reached the end of the line. Today the United States Supreme Court rejected a petition to hear and rule on the case themselves. By refusing to touch the case, SCOTUS is effectively stopping the appeal process dead in its tracks and upholding the decision made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2013. In turn, the decision made by the 9th Circuit Court upholds the original decision made by California District Court Judge Stephen Wilson all the way back in 2012.
In other words, the Supreme Court has given the legal go-ahead for California’s foie gras ban to remain in effect.
Jonathan Lovvorn, chief counsel for the Humane Society of the United States, released a statement praising the decision and the precedent it sets for the future:
As the Los Angeles Times points out, back in July co-defendant California Attorney General Kamala Harris released a statement of her own noting that the California law is no different from other state-specific laws, and has just as much of a right to be in place:
Interestingly enough, not one of the three major plaintiffs in the case – neither Association des Éleveurs de Canards et d'Oies du Québec, nor Hudson Valley Foie Gras, nor Hot’s Restaurant Group – has issued so much as a Tweet acknowledging the decision, let alone an official statement. Perhaps the writing on the wall regarding the Supreme Court’s eventual decision was clear – two years is a fairly long time after all, the plaintiff side had not been successful once, and as Eater points out that the truly determined have found workarounds. Overall, it’s possible that that the foie gras industry has already moved on from the fight, restaurants focusing on making meals with what’s readily available while producers focus on doing business in states and countries where the product is welcome.