California’s voter-approved Prop 12 is in jeopardy:
When the Supreme Court sits in October, having taken a break after its current bout of country-shaking decisions, it will decide whether Californians have the democratic right to decide how the animals they eat are treated. In 2018, the Golden State’s voters overwhelmingly supported Proposition 12, a ballot initiative that requires that many animal-derived products, like pork and eggs, sold in California come from animals raised on farms that give them more space to move. Specifically, it required giving pregnant pigs 24 square feet of space, thereby freeing them from gestation stalls in which they cannot turn around or even lie down comfortably. In the wake of the decision, the meat industry in California turned to scaremongering about price increases and bacon shortages, and challenged Prop 12 in court. It lost.
But now the highest court has agreed to hear the case, and a who’s who of American business has lined up behind the pig industry. Amicus briefs for the case have been filed by U.S. and Canadian meat industry groups, manufacturing and pharmaceutical associations, and free market evangelists like the Cato Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The crux of all these groups’ arguments is that Proposition 12’s animal welfare standards will impose an unfair economic burden on pig producers in other states that sell to California. Unexpectedly, the latest group to throw its weight behind the hog barons is the Biden administration’s Department of Justice. But while this case, National Pork Producers Council & American Farm Bureau Federation v. Ross, is ostensibly about interstate commerce, it also raises a deeper question: whether values democratically expressed by a state’s voters can serve as legal basis for regulating harmful industries’ effects within that state.
With the current Supreme Court the issue will likely come down to corporate rights over people rights. SCOTUS loves corporate rights.