Court Upholds Constitutionality of San Francisco Fur Ban
International Fur Trade Federation’s amended complaints dismissed in decisive victory for animals
SAN FRANCISCO — This week the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a constitutional challenge to San Francisco’s ban on the sale of fur products after repeated attempts from The International Fur Trade Federation to amend their complaint. The International Fur Trade Federation filed its lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco in January 2020. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States intervened in the lawsuit, to defend the ordinance’s constitutionality and preserve San Francisco’s right to ban fur.
Spearheaded by San Francisco Supervisor Katy Tang, the fur ban was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2018 and went into effect on Jan. 1, 2019 — while allowing retailers until the end of 2019 to sell off existing inventory. San Francisco’s ban built on the successes of West Hollywood and Berkeley passing similar legislation, and paved the way for Los Angeles and, finally, the state of California, to pass similar humane legislation in 2019. Given the wide array of faux fur products and similar alternatives available to the fashion industry, the San Francisco ordinance was aimed at preventing animal cruelty and environmental impacts associated with fur production by banning fur sales in the City.
More than a year after the ordinance took effect, the International Fur Trade Federation responded by filing a lawsuit which sought to strike it down as unconstitutional. The court disagreed, and issued a decision that reinforced its earlier finding that the Commerce Clause does not preclude San Francisco from ridding its marketplace of cruel fur products and allows for enforcement of the ban against both local retailers and online retailers who have a physical location in the city.
“The judge’s decision confirms the constitutional right of San Francisco to implement the city’s fur ban, which will also support efforts to enact similar legislation across the country,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “We will continue to defend challenges to fur bans and protect advocates’ ability to pass animal protection laws on local, state, and national levels.”
Animal fur — from animals like foxes, minks, raccoon dogs, and many others — is produced under inhumane conditions to maintain the integrity of the skin. Animals are kept in small, filthy cages — typically stacked on top of one another, with waste falling onto the occupant below. Unable to engage in any of their natural behaviors, animals on fur farms routinely resort to self-mutilation, obsessive pacing, and infanticide before being suffocated, gassed, poisoned, or electrocuted. In anal or vaginal electrocution, electrodes are attached to the animal’s face and genitals to induce a heart attack. Animals are commonly skinned alive with no painkillers while fully conscious.
San Francisco has become the third and largest city in the nation to prohibit the sale and manufacture of products containing animal fur.April 17, 2018 Animal Law Update
Court dismisses International Fur Trade Federation’s complaint in victory for animalsJuly 16, 2020 Press Release