Animal rights activists victorious as Supreme Court leaves California’s foie gras ban intact
In a victory for animal rights activists, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed California to continue to ban foie gras, a delicacy produced from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese that have been force-fed corn.
Rejecting a legal challenge to the law, the court declined to hear an appeal filed by restaurants and producers of foie gras. In doing so, the high court left intact an August 2013 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the law.
California enacted the law in 2004 but it did not go into effect until 2012.
Foie gras means “fatty liver” in French. The product is produced by force-feeding corn to ducks and geese to enlarge their livers, which are harvested to make gourmet dishes. Animal rights groups contend that the force-feeding process is painful, gruesome and inhumane.
The law specifically bans any product created by “force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond a normal size.”
Los Angeles-based Hot’s Restaurant Group, Canada’s Association des Eleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Quebec and New York producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras challenged the ban in a lawsuit filed last year.
They argued that the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause, which prohibits states from interfering with interstate commerce. But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument, saying the state was within its rights to impose the ban.
The case is Association des Eleveur v. Harris, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-1313.
(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Will Dunham)