U.S. Government Files Amicus Brief in Prop 12 Case
As previously reported, on March 28, 2022, the U.S. Supreme court granted a Writ of Certiorari petition submitted by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) in National Pork Producers Council v. Karen Ross. The petitioners argue that California’s Proposition 12 places excessive burdens on interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause. By way of background, California’s Proposition 12, also known as the Prevention of Cruelty to Farm Animals Act, establishes new standards for confinement of certain farm animals (breeding pigs, calves raised for veal, and egg-laying hens) and bans the sale of products from such animals not raised under minimum confinement standards in California.
On June 17th, the U.S. Government and the U.S. Solicitor General filed an amicus brief in support of the NPPC and AFBF’s challenge to California’s Proposition 12. The brief states that the U.S. Government has a substantial interest in this question because, under the Animal Health Protection Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the federal government has the responsibility to guard against disease in interstate commerce, as well as to ensure the free flow of interstate commerce. To that end, the amicus brief argues that the state of California does not have a legitimate interest in protecting the welfare of animals outside of its borders and that it may not extend its police power beyond its jurisdictional bounds. The brief states that it is not taking a position on whether Proposition 12 is unconstitutional but rather that the petitioners have plausibly alleged that the measure will have substantial adverse impacts on the interstate pork market and that, if those assertions are proven, the burdens would be “clearly excessive.” The brief concludes that the judgment of the court of appeals should be remanded for appropriate proceedings.
This filing comes after a coalition of representatives urged the Solicitor General to support Proposition 12. The Supreme Court case is set to be heard on October 11, 2022. Keller and Heckman will continue to monitor this matter and report on any updates.