(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost recently joined 25 other attorneys general in an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that allows California to impose its animal-farming regulations on other states.
States are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their residents and for regulating animal farms within their own borders.
“The West Coast can’t seem to understand that this is not the ‘United States of California’ and that farmers in Ohio and other states don’t need to be told how to raise animals,” Yost said. “California imports most, if not all, of its meat, whereas Ohio is known for its agricultural production. It’s best to leave regulation to the experts.”
California’s Proposition 12 bans the confinement “in a cruel manner” of egg-laying chickens, mother pigs and veal calves, and likewise prohibits the sale within California of pork, eggs and veal products from such animals, regardless of the state of origin of the meat.
The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation filed a lawsuit to protect farmers in other states from these regulations. The suit argues that Proposition 12 violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which gives only Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce, and that the regulations amount to unconstitutional extraterritorial regulation.
Last year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that California can regulate extraterritorially “as long as price-control or price-affirmation statutes are not enacted.”
The U.S. Supreme Court has since agreed to hear the case, and now Yost and the other attorneys general – led by Indiana, North Dakota and South Dakota – are supporting the pork industry’s argument, urging the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision.
The extraterritoriality doctrine is hardly limited to price controls, the attorneys general argue in their June 17 brief, but rather “has its roots in a broad historical understanding of the limits of state sovereignty and a desire among the Founders for a unified national market for commerce.”
Furthermore, they maintain, Proposition 12 has identified no net benefits to California residents or to the animals that California is trying to “protect,” nor has it presented any sound evidence regarding what constitutes “cruel” housing or shown that its preferred housing method improves the overall welfare of Californians or the affected animals.
“Simply put, the interstate conflict is being ignored,” Yost said. “We can’t allow other states to promote their own policy preferences on a national scale. If it happens here, where would it end?”
Joining Ohio, Indiana and the Dakotas in the amicus brief were the attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.