Press Release

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds California’s Landmark Proposition 12 Animal Cruelty Law

The Animal Legal Defense Fund has helped defend California’s right to enact the strongest farmed animal protection law in the country


WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 9th Circuit Court’s decision dismissing the pork industry’s lawsuit against California’s animal cruelty law known as Proposition 12, which protects mother pigs, chickens used in egg production, and calves raised for veal from some of the cruelest forms of intensive confinement such as the use of gestation crates so small that pregnant pigs are unable to turn around and scarcely able to move forward or backward. In 2018, California voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 12.

The extreme confinement from gestation crates is not only cruel to animals — it’s also hazardous to public health. Keeping animals in cramped, stressful conditions puts them at increased risk of contracting and spreading zoonotic diseases — those that can spread between animals and humans.

Proposition 12 applies not just to animals raised in California, but also to animals raised for pork, eggs, and veal imported into the state — banning the sale of products in California if they were produced using housing systems that don’t meet the law’s space requirements. Proposition 12 provided a phase-in period of several years to allow producers to make the upgrades required to sell their products in California.

“Farmed animals are among the most commonly abused animals on Earth, with fewer protections under the law than other animals such as cats and dogs,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Managing Attorney Amanda Howell. “In a critical victory for a state’s right to ensure basic humane treatment of animals, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that California had the right to prohibit sales of various products that are made through some of the most cruelest industry practices that put public health at risk.”

The Animal Legal Defense Fund was part of the coalition that was integral to getting Proposition 12 passed by ensuring the realities of the law and the cruelty it would help mitigate were clear to voters as industry groups tried many tactics to conceal how farmed animals are actually treated.

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