December 23, 2020 UPDATE: Since this blog was posted, the North American Meat Institute petitioned the Ninth Circuit to try to get its case reheard en banc (by a full panel of the Court). Today, the Ninth Circuit unanimously rejected the Institute’s request to rehear its tired claims. In doing so, the Court’s previous decision will stand, and Proposition 12 will not be halted from going into effect.
Our legal team has just warded off a challenge to California’s Proposition 12, the world’s strongest farm animal protection law.
A 9th Circuit court three-judge panel ruled today in favor of upholding this historic initiative that bans the heinous confinement of hens, mother pigs and baby veal calves in cages so small that the animals can barely move, and prevents the sale of products from such cruel confinement within the state. The Humane Society of the United States led the campaign for Proposition 12 in California in 2018 and it passed by an overwhelming 63% of the vote.
The court decision today upheld a judge’s ruling last November that rejected an attempt from the North American Meat Institute to stop the law from going into effect. The HSUS and our allies intervened to defend the law. Yet another judge sided with us this year in a similar case brought by the National Pork Producers Council. Today’s ruling further strengthens our long-held position that every state has the legal right to restrict the sale of cruelly-produced items.
The intensive confinement of farm animals also increases public health risks, including the spread of dangerous zoonotic diseases (diseases that jump from animals to people).
Of the three judges who issued the ruling today, two were appointed by President George W. Bush. This should send a loud and clear message to industry groups and others who have weighed in against Proposition 12 that it’s time to stop wasting taxpayers’ and members’ money on frivolous lawsuits designed to keep animals in cruel conditions. Animal welfare is not a partisan issue and judges are not buying the factory farm industry’s weak legal arguments.
Many producers are converting to cage-free systems because of Proposition 12 and because a growing number of corporations, including restaurant chains, food service companies and food manufacturers, are adopting cage-free policies of their own. The ruling today makes it crystal clear to manufacturers and industry groups who are stuck in the past that they need to eliminate their cruel cages forever if they choose to sell in the California market.