Major developments in pivotal Supreme Court case for animals

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on June 23, 2022 with 0 Comments

A lawsuit currently being considered by the United States Supreme Court will have enormous consequences for millions of animals across the country—and we have news about major developments, some of it positive and some disappointing. Regardless, the fight continues.

First, some background: The pork industry is suing to overturn California’s Proposition 12, widely considered one of the strongest laws for farm animals in the world. Proposition 12 banned the intensive confinement of egg-laying chickens, mother pigs and calves used in the veal industry. It also prohibited the sale in California of eggs, pork and veal from facilities that use those practices. The landmark animal welfare, consumer protection, and public health law passed in 2018 with 63% of California voters in support, and we are proud to lead such a decisive step forward for farm animal welfare.

But the victory we and the majority of California voters celebrated on behalf of animals in 2018 has had to be vigorously defended ever since. Our legal team and allies have successfully defended Proposition 12 in multiple courtrooms. This current case was filed by the National Pork Producers Council, and the Trump administration submitted a brief in support. Since then, we have been urging the Biden administration to break with the Trump-era position that opposes Proposition 12.

Unfortunately, late last week, the Biden administration submitted a brief that declined to reverse the course set by the Trump administration in 2020. The Biden brief walked back some of the most extreme anti-humane positions advanced by the Trump brief, but nevertheless recommended the Supreme Court remand the case back for additional court hearings on the industry’s claims.

While disappointing, the Biden brief stopped short of openly endorsing the pork industry’s radical legal theories and specifically noted that state laws like Proposition 12 can be constitutional under the right conditions. The California Attorney General and our lawyers will now focus on making clear in our briefing to the Supreme Court that Proposition 12 meets every one of the conditions set forth in the Biden brief.

We are enormously grateful to the 16 U.S. Senators and 100 Representatives, all members of the Democratic Caucus, along with governors and members of state legislatures across the country, who signed letters to the Biden administration. Along with this significant legislative support, there has been a vast coalition supporting Proposition 12—including 98 organizations representing concerns about food safety, animal protection, the environment, sustainable agriculture and farm workers. There clearly was a critical show of political unity for our position. We’re thankful, too, for the concerned citizens who reached out to the White House on this issue.

There was also a positive development in the Supreme Court case that came from an unlikely source: University of California Davis agricultural economics professors. U.C. Davis is one of the most prominent agricultural schools in the country and is frequently hired by agribusiness to conduct industry-focused research. The National Pork Board funded two of the school’s top agricultural economists to analyze the effects of Proposition 12 in 2018. In Friday’s filing, the researchers told the Supreme Court that the industry’s claims of out-of-state economic damage from Proposition 12 are entirely unsupported by their research, and some “lack any plausible basis,” while others defy “common sense” and “simple economic incentives.” In summary, the economists assert that “as a matter of both economic theory and empirical data, [the industry’s] central economic arguments are erroneous and implausible.”

The other briefs filed on Friday night were mostly from the usual suspects aligned with the pork industry. We will respond to the pork industry’s bogus arguments, and a wide group of concerned experts and public interest groups also plan to submit briefs showing that not only does Proposition 12 align with legal precedent, but most importantly that it is in the best interests of animals, consumers, farmers, workers and the planet.

We will continue to keep you posted on how this pivotal case develops.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Animal-friendly ways to celebrate July 4 (Hint: It’s not fireworks)

By on June 21, 2022 with 3 Comments
Animal-friendly ways to celebrate July 4 (Hint: It’s not fireworks)

Anyone with pets knows that our furry family members can become so frightened by exploding fireworks that they do anything to escape the noise, whether it’s hiding in the bathtub, or something more desperate (and dangerous), such as breaking through windows or door screens. At . . . 

Read More

It’s graduation season: Have you considered a career devoted to helping animals?

By on June 17, 2022 with 1 Comment
It’s graduation season: Have you considered a career devoted to helping animals?

When I joined the Humane Society of the United States back in 1992 as a legal investigator, I couldn’t have predicted that my career path would lead me to the role I serve now, as president and CEO of the HSUS and CEO of Humane . . . 

Read More

As India swelters under intense heat waves, we’re helping communities care for their dogs

By on June 15, 2022 with 0 Comments
As India swelters under intense heat waves, we’re helping communities care for their dogs

For the past several months, a deadly heat wave has been sweeping Northern India, affecting hundreds of millions of people and sending temperatures soaring to record heights. In some areas, the heat has gotten as severe as 49.2 C / 120.5 F. And because the . . . 

Read More

How to make your summer animal-friendly

By on June 13, 2022 with 2 Comments
How to make your summer animal-friendly

The dog days of summer, where temperatures climb and people head outdoors, have nearly arrived. It is especially important to keep animals in mind during this active season—not just the companions in our homes but also the wild animals we may encounter while hiking in . . . 

Read More

‘Aggressive’ horse from Assateague Island arrives at our sanctuary

By on June 9, 2022 with 12 Comments
‘Aggressive’ horse from Assateague Island arrives at our sanctuary

Our sanctuary in Texas, Black Beauty Ranch, plays an extremely important and inspiring role for animals who have nowhere left to go. Take Chip, the horse who arrived at Black Beauty this week from Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland. He had to be removed . . . 

Read More

Photographer shows survivors of dog meat farms in inspiring new light

By on June 6, 2022 with 5 Comments
Photographer shows survivors of dog meat farms in inspiring new light

Not so long ago, for a golden retriever now known as Chewbacca (nicknamed Chewy), the whole world was the small, dirty space inside the four wire sides of his pen. The first five years of Chewy’s life were spent on a dog meat farm in . . . 

Read More

Breaking: Lawsuit forces U.S. to rethink bird flu response

By on June 4, 2022 with 2 Comments
Breaking: Lawsuit forces U.S. to rethink bird flu response

When a strain of bird flu sweeps through factory farms, where birds are tightly confined, the current “solution” involves immense cruelty. This is why it’s a genuine milestone in the fight against factory farming that the Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary and . . . 

Read More

Lucky was the last dog scheduled for slaughter. Then something incredible happened.

By on June 3, 2022 with 3 Comments
Lucky was the last dog scheduled for slaughter. Then something incredible happened.

Before Lucky was known as Lucky, he was a nameless dog chained outside a shop in Yulin, China, with a sign in front of him advertising dog meat. He couldn’t have known that death was mere moments away, nor anticipate how his fate might change. . . . 

Read More

Testing lab remains silent, but voices demanding beagles’ release grow louder 

By on May 31, 2022 with 21 Comments
Testing lab remains silent, but voices demanding beagles’ release grow louder 

We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the 82 beagles languishing at Inotiv’s Mount Vernon, Indiana, laboratory that was the site of our recent undercover investigation. A Humane Society of the United States investigator found 80 beagle puppies being force-fed potentially toxic . . . 

Read More

Our Taking Action for Animals conference returns to inform and inspire grassroots activism

By on May 26, 2022 with 2 Comments
Our Taking Action for Animals conference returns to inform and inspire grassroots activism

When you’re a passionate animal welfare advocate, you might sometimes feel like a bit of an outsider. Friends, family members and co-workers who don’t share your passion might not grasp why you spend your weekends trapping community cats to get spayed or neutered. Or why . . . 

Read More

The time for Congress to act on horse soring, horse slaughter bills is now

By on May 23, 2022 with 7 Comments
The time for Congress to act on horse soring, horse slaughter bills is now

Update 6/23/22: The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection voted today to advance two important horse protection bills, the SAFE and PAST Act. The Subcommittee voted in favor 22-0 for both bills and we look forward to further advancement to the Full Committee. . . . 

Read More

Top