Supreme Court of U.S. Hears Meat Industry Challenge to California Law Banning “Downed” Animals From Meat Supply

Posted on November 9, 2011

Animal Legal Defense Fund Intervenes in Case, Supporting State Anti-Cruelty Law Against Corporate Profit-Seekers

For immediate release

Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund
Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Pigs in daisiesSan Francisco–Today, the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments in National Meat Association v. Harris, the meat industry’s challenge of a 2008 California law that requires slaughterhouses to immediately euthanize “downer” animals who are too sick to stand up and walk to their own deaths. The Sonoma County, California-based Animal Legal Defense Fund, along with the Humane Society of the U.S., Farm Sanctuary, and Humane Farming Association, intervened in the case to defend California’s law, which stops factory farmers from beating, shocking, and dragging downed pigs to slaughter. The case–a rare instance of the Supreme Court deciding on a case relating specifically to legal protection for animals–will determine whether California voters or out-of-state corporations have the right to decide how farmed animals in California are treated.

The National Meat Association (NMA) and other trade groups want California’s law declared unconstitutional because of the profits they will lose if they cannot slaughter and sell even downed animals. They claim that comparatively weak federal regulations–rather than California law–should control the issue. The NMA previously succeeded at the district court level, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the law, calling the NMA’s arguments "hogwash."

California’s downed animal law was prompted by revelations that cows at Chino, California’s Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. had been beaten, shocked, dragged by chains, rammed with a forklift, and sprayed with high-pressure hoses by workers attempting to get them to stand for slaughter. The California prosecutor that charged workers at the plant supports the California law, claiming that a decision in favor of the industry would diminish state and local authorities’ ability to bring such cases in the future.

"The meat industry wants federal rather than state law to control the issue of downed animals in the food supply because it is easier for them to influence one group of federal regulators than fifty state legislatures, including California," says the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s litigation director Carter Dillard, who formerly represented the United States as a lawyer with the Department of Justice. "If Californians want animals in the state treated better, Washington and corporate farmers should not be telling them otherwise."

8 thoughts on “Supreme Court of U.S. Hears Meat Industry Challenge to California Law Banning “Downed” Animals From Meat Supply

  1. Wonder how many people would continue to eat animals if they knew of the suffering,

  2. Philip and Barbara Burghardt says:

    No animal should ever suffer abuse, during their short life. Maybe more people would become vegetarian if they saw how inhumanely animals are treated before their slaughter!

  3. Milena Czarnota says:

    We need to expose those farms that have been caught abusing their animals. How heartbreaking–being beaten and mutilated and used all of your short life, just to be killed so the people that do this to you (humans) can eat…. And it’s just awful that that most of the time they don’t “just put them down”, they let them slowly die in pain and agony, or kill them in a very barbaric fashion. PEOPLE NEED TO BE EDUCATED, I believe when they hear about it does not NOT have the same impact on them as, for instance, if they were to SEE A VIDEO FOR THEMSELF! I believe that would work!

  4. Michelle says:

    Les animaux paient un lourd tribu de la méchanceté et de la violence des humains, qui se disent humains, mais qui ne sont devenus plus que des robots,car ils accomplissent des actes odieux, indignes et pleins de cruautés.Les animaux souffrent jusqu’au bout et agonisent, pour finir dans les assiettes.Cela ne peut plus durer.Les personnes qui commettent des actes de violence envers les animaux devraient être punis et interdits d’exercer un métier en rapport avec les animaux. Les animaux souffrent et agonisent par notre faute, ils ne demandent qu’à vivre et ne sont pas nés pour être mangés.Réduisons notre consommation de viande, qui en plus est très mauvaise pour la santé, car les animaux sont nourris aux antibiotiques ,ogm et autres et ces substances se retrouvent dans notre organismes. Les Etats Unis devraient revoir leur politique envers les animaux car ils sont très en retard et participent à de nombreux carnages,. Il faut changer nos comportements, les animaux n’ont pas été mis sur terre pour souffrir à cause de nous. On peut très bien vivre sans manger de viande.

    The animals are paying a heavy price for the wickedness and violence of humans, who call themselves human, but which have become more than just robots as they perform heinous acts, unworthy and full of suffering to animals. Those who commit acts of animal abuse should be punished and forbidden to exercise a profession related to animals. The animals are suffering and dying because of us, they want to live and are not born to be eaten. Reduce our meat consumption, which in addition is very bad for your health, because the animals are fed antibiotics, gmo and other substances and these are found in our bodies. The United States should review their policy towards animals because they are very late and participate in numerous carnage. We must change our behavior, the animals were not put on earth to suffer because of us. We can live very well without eating meat.

  5. Mary Chipman says:

    It just shows how many animals are seriously ill or injured if the meat producers can argue they would lose too much money if they were all humanely euthanized. A lot more sick animals in the food supply than the average person would suspect.

  6. marsha says:

    These animals belong to God in my opinion!! They will pay one day. But unfortunately the animals are paying now. I am so heartbroken over animal cruelty that I cry, have nightmares and anger towards the people who do this to animals. I wish I could stop it right now, but I’m afraid it will take a lot more than me to help stop this, so, I just keep doing what I can to spread the word.

  7. Miranda Mikeasky says:

    Hmmm…but it is inhumane to beat, shock, drag by chains, ram with a forklift, and spray with high-pressure hoses humans…

  8. Grady says:

    Human beings are without a CONSCIENCE. To allow animals to be part of their diet and clothing is UNCONSCIONABLE. How can we ever expect to achieve peace, love and harmony among our fellow man when we don’t do the same for our fellow animals. It is all a part of the inter-woven fabric as societal beings to interface with man and animal alike

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