High Court Leaves California Foie Gras Ban Undisturbed, as ALDF’s Campaign ContinuesPosted by Kelsey Eberly, Litigation Fellow on October 15, 2014
In a victory for ducks and for Californians who have battled for years to protect them from force feeding to produce foie gras, the Supreme Court declined to disturb California’s landmark foie gras ban, rejecting a petition from restaurants and producers, including Hudson Valley Foie Gras.
The challengers had contended that California’s law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and asked the high court to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ August 2013 decision upholding the ban. In that decision, the Ninth Circuit found that California was well within its rights in prohibiting the in-state production and sale of force-fed foie gras.
As the Ninth Circuit found, nothing in the Constitution prevents California from adopting laws to ensure the humane treatment of ducks within its borders and to keep this cruelly-produced “delicacy” out of its restaurants. The Supreme Court’s rejection of the challengers’ petition leaves this conclusion unchanged. Although the case now heads back to the district court, the high court’s action ensures that, for the time being, California law will continue to protect ducks from the barbaric practice of force-feeding.
This development is the latest in ALDF’s long-running campaign against the foie gras industry. The lucrative “gourmet” product is made by force-feeding young ducks massive amounts of grain, causing their livers to balloon to eight times their natural size. Last year ALDF, along with Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, and the Marin Humane Society, filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit, supporting the state ban and opposing industry efforts to have it temporarily lifted.
Next, ALDF is headed to the California Court of Appeals to defend its July 2013 victory over Napa, California-based La Toque restaurant. A Napa County Superior Court previously rejected La Toque’s claim that its illegal conduct—continuing to sell force-fed foie gras—constitutes “speech” protected under the First Amendment. ALDF will again counter this meritless claim, and continue to hold the restaurant accountable for flouting the law.
As Hudson Valley Foie Gras, La Toque, and other peddlers of this inhumane product have shown no signs of abandoning their attack against California’s landmark law, ALDF will continue to oppose the production and sale of force-fed foie gras at every turn.