Center For Animal Law Studies At Lewis & Clark Celebrates The Supreme Court’s Decision “upholding California’s Proposition 12, which bans the cruel confinement of pigs, calves, and hens”

May 11, 2023

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds California Prop 12: Get Farmed Animals Out of Cages

Professor Joyce Tischler summarizes why the United States Supreme Court’s decision upholding Proposition 12 is monumental for animals.

Today, in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s Proposition (“Prop”) 12—a law passed by voters of that state to establish minimum space requirements for sows (female pigs used for breeding piglets), egg-laying hens, and calves who are raised for veal—and to ban the in-state sale of products that are derived from these animals when they are confined in housing that falls below the minimum space requirements. This is a long overdue victory for those who are working to end the extreme and cruel confinement of farmed animals by the meat, dairy and egg industries and it is the sort of case that demonstrates the power of the law to fuel change for the better treatment of animals.

In 2018, California voters passed Prop 12, which established minimum space requirements based on square feet allotted to each farmed animal. Under Prop 12, later codified as Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 25990-25994, confinement is defined as “cruel” if it prevents a pig, (calf or hen) from “lying down, standing up, fully extending the animal’s limbs, or turning around freely.” § 25991(e)(1). Before Prop 12 was set to go into effect, the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation (“pork producers”) sued the State of California and sought to overturn Prop 12.

In 2021, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed the dismissal of the lawsuit and the district court’s holding that the pork producers failed to state a claim as a matter of law. The pork producers appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which granted certiorari.

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And if you are any doubt about the morality of this type of farming practice Robert Wyatt ( he of Soft Machine and one of the greatest songs of the 20th century, “shipbuilding”) wrote this very moving song