Nonpartisan groups petition U.S. Supreme Court in California's foie gras fight

By Glenn Minnis | Apr 26, 2018

WASHINGTON – Ilya Shapiro hopes the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear foie gras producers and sellers' challenge to California's ban on the product in the name of freedom.

WASHINGTON – Ilya Shapiro hopes the U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear foie gras producers and sellers' challenge to California's ban on the product in the name of freedom.

“This case deals with the basic liberty to be able to eat what you want to eat and argues that the state of California can’t intrude,” Shapiro, senior fellow in constitutional studies and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review told the Northern California Record. “The state should not have the power to intrude in matters such as this.”

Nonpartisan public policy research foundation The Cato Institute recently joined forces with the Reasons Foundation to file an amicus curiae brief with the high court on the issue. The Reasons Foundation is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy think tank.

"The brief argues that Congress has established uniform standards for poultry products, consistent with federal authority to normalize the flow of interstate commerce, and that California isn’t entitled to override this congressional judgment,” according to Shapiro's blog post on the topic.

That action comes just weeks after the plaintiffs sought an appeal from the Supreme Court after a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last fall. That verdict reversed an earlier U.S. district court’s ruling that stamped the foie gras ban as unconstitutional.

Others institutions that have made similar filings in support of the plaintiffs, including the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, a Canadian food group, the government of France and 11 states.

“The Supreme Court grants few cases, so I don’t know what the chances are of this getting notice,” Shapiro said. “I can tell you a lot of people have a lot to say about this case.”

Foie gras is a delicacy made from duck or goose liver that is produced from a process known as gavage, or the enlarging of a bird's liver by feeding it combination of fat and grain through a tube strategically placed in the bird's mouth.

Animal-rights activists have long condemned the practice as a form of animal cruelty and in 2004, then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law banning the act. The law also bans the sale of any such product across the state that is produced anywhere else.

No matter what happens with the Supreme Court, Shapiro said he doesn’t see the issue of state outreach in such matters ending anytime soon for local lawmakers.

“Even if this case ends here, there are other suits for California to deal with over agricultural issues,” he said.

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