WASHINGTON − The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear an appeal challenging California’s 11-year-old ban on foie gras, rejecting the argument raised by duck and geese farmers that the prohibition flouted federal law.
The denial, made without comment from the court, leaves in place a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that upheld the ban. It was the third time farmers had brought their challenge to the Supreme Court.
The debate over foie gras − the fatty liver of force-fed ducks and geese − has been fought on political and legal fronts for decades. Animal rights groups say the process of making foie gras is cruel. Farmers say they comply with regulations and that they “care about their animals just as much as any California politician.”
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Foie gras bans have struggled in other parts of the country. Chicago banned its sale in 2006, only to repeal the provision two years later. New York City approved a ban in 2019, though it has been caught up in courts ever since and is not currently in effect. Animal welfare advocates say other jurisdictions are likely paying attention to what happens with the court cases in New York and California.
The Supreme Court delved into a similar issue earlier this month, siding with California on a ban of pork products in that state unless the butchered pig was born to a sow housed in at least 24 square feet of floor space. In that case, the pork industry claimed the California ban would have a huge impact beyond its borders, affecting farmers in Iowa, Minnesota and elsewhere. A 5-4 majority on May 11 allowed the California ban to stand.