Supreme Court set to uphold California animal treatment standards – The Denver Post

Search images online for “sow in gestation crate” to see the abject misery of an animal confined to a pen, usually 7 feet by 2 feet.

These pens confine pregnant sows for the duration of gestation. The sow cannot walk or turn around. She cannot lie on her side without her legs sticking out of the bars where they can be crushed and inadvertently broken by the pig in the next cage.

Under normal conditions, pigs are clean animals; they defecate far from where they eat and lie down. Immobilized in a gestation crate, a sow has no choice but to sit or lie down naked on a wire mesh floor except for the smear of excrement. Urinary tract infections are common.

Although curious and social by nature, sows are not able to interact with their own species or with their environment. Devoid of social and mental stimulation, they chew on the bars of their cage and become listless.

When it’s time to farrow, the sows are moved to an equally cramped farrowing pen. After three weeks, the suckling piglets are removed. The sow will breed and return to the gestation crate to give birth to a second litter per year. The cycle will continue for another two to four years before she is sent to the slaughterhouse.

It’s no wonder Colorado and nine other states have banned the use of gestation crates. More and more companies are ending contracts with producers who practice inhuman confinement. Americans are taking action to end the cruel treatment of livestock through their purchasing choices and by supporting legislative action to ban such practices and the sale of meat produced inhumanely in their states.

That right to act through elected state officials or the ballot initiative process is at stake in a case that will be heard in the Supreme Court next month.

National Pork Producers Council v. Ross focuses on California Proposition 12, which establishes minimum space standards for sows, veal calves and laying hens on California farms. The law also prohibits the sale of pork, veal and eggs from in-state and out-of-state farms that do not meet minimum standards. The out-of-state producers, through their advocacy organizations, sued on the grounds that the law violated the “dormant trade clause.”

The Commerce Clause in the United States Constitution states that Congress shall have the power “to regulate commerce…among the several States.” Since Congress has the prerogative to regulate this commerce, it is implied (or dormant in the clause) that states cannot pass legislation that discriminates against other states and hinders interstate commerce.

For example, states cannot enact laws regulating or taxing goods made in other states differently from goods made in the state, which frequently happened before the adoption of the Constitution when the country was governed by the Articles of Confederation.

The hog industry alleges that California’s minimum living space standards will weigh heavily on out-of-state hog producers. The Southern District of California, however, dismissed the complaint. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rejection saying that while Proposition 12 “will require pervasive changes to the hog production industry nationwide,” the law did not violate the Commerce Clause. sleeping. The producers appealed to the Supreme Court.

Fortunately, legal precedents such as Maine v. Taylor assert the prerogatives of the state to protect the health, safety, and welfare of citizens: “States retain the authority, under their general police powers, to regulate matters of legitimate local concern, although interstate commerce may be affected. .” Several states ban the sale of inhumanely manufactured products such as ivory, animal-tested cosmetics, dog meat, eggs from cages, and human tissue from aborted babies.

If the Court ignores these precedents and strikes down Proposition 12, the resulting limitations on state authority “could upset the balance between state and federal power and, in effect, , ceding to the federal government the sole power to enact laws in a multitude of traditionally governed areas”. by state regulation… Limiting the traditional regulatory role of the states in this way would also harm state residents, who have come to rely on these important protections when purchasing goods, obtaining professional services and engage in financial transactions,” notes an Amicus Brief signed by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser and other state attorneys general.

More than a dozen Colorado veterinarians also weighed in as amicus curiae with peer-reviewed findings on the painful physical and psychological impacts of harsh confinement. In his own amicus brief, Dr. Leon Barringer, a large animal veterinarian from Colorado with decades of experience in animal care and the meat production industry, dispelled producers’ claims that which they could not meet Proposition 12 standards for sales in California. “There is no plausible reason,” he wrote, “that existing tracing and segregation technology and practices cannot be used to separate Prop 12-compliant pigs from other pigs in the pipeline, without any substantial burden on interstate commerce”.

The Supreme Court should uphold Proposition 12 because Californians and U.S. citizens in all other states have the right to set minimum standards for the humane treatment of livestock in the state and to protect consumers from products made by unethical and even immoral means inside and outside the state.

Krista L. Kafer is a weekly columnist at the Denver Post. Follow her on Twitter: @kristakafer.

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Boyd S. Abbott