I previously explained here why I thought the law was unconstitutional.
Unfortunately, a federal judge threw the case out earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller dismissed the suit, because the states had only demonstrated that the California law would hurt egg producers outside of California, not all consumers. (Source: Des Moines Register.)
To no one’s surprise, the Humane Society of the United States helped defend the law in court. They were overjoyed about the case’s dismissal.
While I still think California’s laws are unconstitutional, this case does set a fairly scary legal precedent. Can a state really set a regulation that governs the activity of citizens in that state, but also in any other state? Essentially, that’s how California’s law operates – it creates regulations that California producers, as well as producers in other states, must follow if it wants to sell that product in California.
Putting aside actual food safety issues that may come up, these types of regulations could come up in other ways. Maybe Michigan doesn’t want Washington apples sold in our markets. Our legislature could pass a law that would require only water from the Great Lakes could be used for irrigating our apple orchards. To go a step further and really stick it to Washington producers, if producers in other states did not comply with the regulation, their produce would be kept out of our markets. Obviously, it would be impossible, or very very costly, for Washington apple growers to irrigate with water directly from the Great Lakes. The law would essentially preclude all apples outside of the Great Lakes region from being sold in the State of Michigan, including Washington apples.
The idea may seem preposterous, but it is akin to what California has done for egg producers.
Following dismissal of the suit, many of the states involved in the lawsuit have expressed an interest in reviewing their legal options. Of course, an appeal of this issue is probably very likely. I’ll keep you posted….
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