Pigs notch animal cruelty win at US Supreme Court

·1-min read
Animal rights activists protesting outside the US Supreme Court
Animal rights activists protesting outside the US Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a California animal cruelty law that bans the sale in America's most-populous state of pork from pigs raised in confined conditions.

Justice Neil Gorsuch, in the 5-4 majority opinion, said "companies that choose to sell products in various states must normally comply with the laws of those various states."

Pork producers who brought the legal challenge against the California law were asking the nation's highest court to impose "constitutional restrictions on the ability of states to regulate goods sold within their borders," Gorsuch said.

"We decline that invitation," he said. "While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list."

Californians passed an animal welfare measure, Proposition 12, in a referendum in 2018 that bans the sale of pork from pigs raised in overly confined pens.

The pork industry went to court accusing California -- which produces little of the pork it consumes -- of restricting interstate commerce and claiming that the state's animal welfare standards would raise ham and bacon prices for consumers.

After being rejected by state courts, the pork producers turned to the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in the case in October.