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In the Courts: U.S. Supreme Court Takes Up Case Involving CA’s Extraterritorial Animal Care Standards
March 31, 2022 by AKC Government Relations

Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court agreed to consider a case brought by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation (petitioners) against multiple California officials and animal rights groups (respondents).  At stake is an important question for every American animal owner, including dog owners: Can one state force animal owners in other states to adhere to its care requirements? 

The petitioners are substantively challenging the constitutionality of California Proposition 12, which in 2018 banned the sale of pork in California unless the sow from which it was derived was housed with minimum space allowances, which almost no farms satisfy (it also applies to hens that produce eggs).  99% of pork production occurs outside of California, so Proposition 12 significantly impacts out-of-state farmers.  California also accounts for approximately 15% of America’s pork consumption, which is a significant market for pork producers.  This brings up a dormant Commerce Clause question as to whether California is empowered to set animal care standards that must be complied with by other states.  The “dormant Commerce Clause” refers to the prohibition, implicit in the Constitution’s Commerce Clause, against states passing legislation that discriminates against or excessively burdens interstate commerce. 

Click here to read case specifics.   

If the Court upholds the constitutionality of Prop 12, it could effectively permit California to dictate how individuals and businesses in other states must maintain animals, or their products (i.e., offspring) that are imported into it.  And while Prop 12 is limited to pork and eggs, an upholding could “green light” efforts to extraterritorial care standards for other species, including dogs. 

The Supreme Court will consider the case during its October 2022 term, with a decision expected no later than June 2023.  AKC Government Relations will monitor the oral arguments and provide updates on the case as developments warrant. 

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