Breaking: New developments in key U.S. Supreme Court case for animals

By Kitty Block and Sara Amundson

By on August 8, 2022 with 30 Comments

Those who follow this blog know about the impending lawsuit in front of the United States Supreme Court, which will have immense consequences for animals. The case centers around Proposition 12, California’s landmark law to address animal cruelty and public health issues stemming from the worst factory farming practices.

In June, we told you about the initial round of briefs in this case, filed by the National Pork Producers Council and amicus groups supporting this petitioner. Just minutes ago, respondents including the Humane Society of the United States—along with our allied animal welfare organizations—and the state of California submitted responses laying out strongly and clearly why Proposition 12 should be upheld by the nation’s highest court.

Proposition 12 was spearheaded by the HSUS in 2018, with support from hundreds of volunteers and leading organizations focused on animal welfare, the environment, responsible farming, food safety and the safety of farm workers. The measure prohibits the in-state production and sale of eggs, pork and veal from facilities that lock animals in cages so small they can barely move. Voters passed the measure in a landslide, with 63% in support.

Proposition 12 is considered by many to be the strongest law for farm animals in the world—and it is also vital for human health. Extensive research has shown that the extreme confinement of farm animals facilitates the spread of pathogens that can cause dangerous foodborne illness or potentially lead to future pandemics.

While the constitutional law issues in this case can seem dense, the pork industry is essentially arguing they have a constitutional right to raise pigs in cruel conditions outside California, and then sell pork into the state, disregarding California’s humane standards.

Fortunately for the public as well as animals, a long history of judicial decisions have concluded that states have the right to prohibit the sale of products within their borders, including those that run counter to the ethics of their citizenry, or that threaten public health and safety. With our briefs, the HSUS, our animal protection partners and the government of California have laid out this history for the Court and respectfully urge the justices to maintain this important precedent.

Public sentiment strongly supports improved welfare standards for farm animals, as well. A new national survey from the highly respected polling firm Data for Progress found: 80% of respondents believe that preventing cruelty to farm animals is a “matter of moral concern” to them. Furthermore, the results show that 80% of Americans are in favor of the sales standards set forth by Proposition 12 and would support similar laws being enacted in their own states. The opinions are shared and virtually identical across Republican and Democrat respondents, signaling true bipartisan agreement.

Just as we built a massive coalition to secure Proposition 12’s passage, we’re anticipating an impressive alliance to defend Proposition 12 in court. Next Monday, a wide variety of entities—including nonprofits, economists and academic scholars, with backgrounds in public health, veterinary medicine and constitutional history—will be submitting additional briefs in support of Proposition 12. Stay tuned: We will update you on this blog next week with highlights from those briefs, and we remain confident that we will prevail.

Sara Amundson is president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Nadine says:

    No reason to house any animal in a cage, that is so inhumane. They should be freely able to roam!


      I agree 100%.
      For me they are not housed period, because I don’t eat my friends.

      • Bambi P says:

        I’d like to see you do something to help our horses here that are getting sent to Mexico slaughterhouses because Bureau of Land Management thanks that this is a necessary thing they’ve lied to us about finding homes for these beautiful animal’s.
        This is absolutely horrific!!
        That’s why we stopped it in the USA so how dare they take our horses out of the USA and send them to Mexico slaughterhouses seems something should be done about that!? kill a should be out of the question.!
        All animals in the food industry should be killed humanely NOT inhumanely.💀🎯🚫👎🏼😢

    • Glen says:

      When it comes to corporations, logic means nothing, only profits

  2. Barbara rock says:

    Hard to look at. I am so against not being good to Any Animal

  3. Tom H says:

    An important beginning to recognizing these animals as not mere commodities and possessions but self-aware, highly social beings that suffer tremendously. In a culture with so many science-backed adequate nutritional alternatives, it’s time to do away with raising living beings to kill them for food. This would mitigate a great deal of the related environmental, animal ethics, and human health problems at the core of so much animal husbandry.

    • JANICE kELLLEY says:

      I agree 100%—I wish I could atone for years of eating meat–I try to do so by supporting many animal rights causes, and no stray animal comes to my door that doesn’t find a home. All animals deserve the best possible life!

    • Jennifer F says:

      Thank you for your heartfelt and insightful comment. 100% Agree. We need to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and evolve as human beings and the world will become a kinder, gentler place for all living beings.

      • Cheryl Marshall says:

        I’d like to see how long a human could endure being in a tiny cage all their life without any room to move at all. I bet they would lose their mind in less than a day! This confinement needs to end immediately!

    • William Cooper says:

      So accurately stated . I stand with your factual statement.

  4. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    No podemos permitir más violencia esta inhumanidad tiene que terminar y tenemos que respetar a todos los seres vivos

  5. Eugene Manges says:

    Animals are a gift from God and we as humans have dominion over them not torture and abuse them…They deserve respect ,without them what would we eat?????Tree bark…

  6. Eugene Manges says:

    Kitty Block….You’re the best…God Bless You…

  7. Diana Lewis says:

    An inhumane prison for pigs has got to end!

  8. Holly Dowling says:

    Thank you HSUS for working hard to change laws about animal confinement here in the US!

  9. Jock Bliss says:

    Casual cruelty to and abuse of animals
    including pets, is so common that federal laws should be passed protecting them and severely punishing abusers (with prison time, not just fines). BUT TOO MANY PEOPLE DO NOT SEEM TO CARE.

  10. Cindy says:

    Thank God that something is being done to help these beautiful beings.

  11. Wendy Murray says:

    Immense gratitude for all the work you do! You are lifting humanity to a better place of self respect, and of course animals to a better life.

  12. Vickie Jacobs says:

    Confining the animals in such small spaces is barbaric. All in the name of greed.
    I don’t eat meat at all but at least let me move around for their short lives.😪

  13. Karin erker says:

    Help And Stop the cruel

  14. Barbara Apgar says:

    Really like Kitty’s blog onupdates and new appeals. This one is especially meaningful. I support the good that the USHS does for animals. They never give up and are up front in advocacy work in the US. Pigs do not deserve gestation crates as a means to control them. It is tragic and horrific that pigs suffer like this. I support HSUS and Kitty on the initiatives that matter for animals. Thank you sincerely!

  15. Veda C Joy says:

    Animals are a gift from God and should be protected as such and not harmed or inhumanely treated. Make sure mothers have plenty of room to raise their babies and that their babies are allowed to stay with their mothers as long as they want to. Protect mothers and babies and don’t harm them.

  16. Michelle says:

    I figure if we are going to kill sentient beings and eat them, the least we can do is let them live humanely up until that point. That being said, I have been a vegan for several years now and would prefer not one more animal be killed for it’s meat but I realize that is unrealistic so let’s at least let them live their lives with room to roam.

  17. Andrea says:

    I wonder why some individuals voted against this proposition. Being able to move is a basic right, not just for humans but also for animals. They feel pain and discomfort the same way a human does.

  18. Kirsten parrish says:

    The best way to get people’s attention and change their minds is visually show the cruelty, and how unnecessary it is. Let the prophet can’t possibly atone for the pain and abject suffering. Also anytime we can get highly recognizable celebrities to come forth and forward it helps a great deal I think. I have gone vegetarian and don’t miss meat one bit… And the weight just dropped off and I don’t ever have to be on a diet again for as long as I live at this rate.

  19. Lydia says:

    It’s a simple solution, GO VEGAN! I did it and 9 years ago and never turn back! They are a whole villages in India Vegan and they thrive, so it’s possible!!!!

  20. Linda says:

    It’s their dna we are eating, their suffering continues within us, they do become a part of us so it’s very important to us not to ingest their suffering. Deep down we know this which is why it becomes so important to us

  21. Sharon Porter says:

    I love the fact that you are always on the side of protection for animals. However in this email I am very concerned with your Fake Meat article. There is proof that fake meat grown in Labs actually are not Meat at all. Not only are they produced with multiple chemicals that are not safe for human consumption,it is in my opinion a business which is untruthful in it’s advertising practice.

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