In a huge win for animals everywhere, the Supreme Court voted to uphold California’s Prop 12, which requires products sold in the state to meet certain animal welfare conditions.
Justice Neil Gorsuch, who rendered the judgment following a 5-4 vote, noted that overturning the ballot initiative, passed in 2018 by nearly 63 percent of voters, would add “aggressive constitutional restrictions” to states’ abilities to regulate goods sold within their borders.
Prop 12, which was supposed to take effect this year but is still being finalized, requires producers who sell their animal-derived products within California to provide pig mothers with at least 24 square feet of space — rather than be kept in cruel metal gestation crates, which don’t provide enough space for the highly intelligent and sensitive animals to turn around or even move much.
Prop 12 also requires producers of egg-laying hens and calves exploited for veal to increase the minimum housing space.
The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation challenged Prop 12 in 2019, alleging the new conditions violated the Constitution by forcing changes to agriculture operations outside of California.
The State of California and numerous animal welfare groups — including the Humane Society of the United States, which filed an amicus or “friend of the court” brief supporting Prop 12 — said that nothing in Prop 12 forced producers to sell within the state and affirmed that Californians had the right to keep morally objectionable products out of their markets.
The Supreme Court ruling also rejected the pork producers’ claim, noting that “virtually all state laws create ripple effects beyond their borders.”
The justices voting in favor of the constitutionality of Prop 12 were Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, and Gorsuch. The remaining justices would have kept the case alive but sent it back to a lower court for additional work.
Animal advocates hailed the decision.
“It’s astonishing that pork industry leaders would waste so much time and money on fighting this commonsense step to prevent products of relentless, unbearable animal suffering,” said HSUS CEO Kitty Block in an official statement.
Those who violate the conditions of Prop 12, once it has been fully enacted, will be committing a crime — punishable by fines, jail time, or civil penalties.
Lady Freethinker is so relieved that Prop 12’s constitutionality was upheld and that California has taken a compassionate stand for farmed animals suffering horrifically for humans’ food. Thank you to the more than 32,000 people who signed our petition speaking up for Prop 12 and farmed animals everywhere!
Remember that you can make a difference for animals every day by choosing compassionate plant-based alternatives that are delicious, affordable, and available near you! In addition to being kinder to animals and the environment, people who choose a plant-based diet have documented numerous health benefits, and scientific studies point to a reduced risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.