In a victory for animal rights activists, the U.S. Supreme court dismissed Tuesday a challenge to the California law that outlaws production and sale of foie gras.
Plaintiffs Canadian Farmers, Hudson Valley Fois Gras and Hot’s Restaurant Group brought the case to the high court, asking for review on the basis that the law negatively impacts interstate and foreign commerce. The California foie gras bill was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on September 29, 2004, and enacted in 2012. Possession of the luxury good is not illegal in the Golden State.
The French delicacy, made commercially from the livers of force-fed ducks, has long been criticized by animal welfare organizations. In order to grow the organ beyond normal size, animals are force-fed through a metal tube several times a day.
The three businesses were represented by attorney Michael Tenenbaum, who said in July, “while some in the California Legislature may think that they have the power to tell farmers in other states what to do, at least 13 other states recognize that this unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce.”
New York is the sole remaining state farming foie gras, but did not join in, even though plaintiff Hudson Valley is based there.
Ducks do not breathe through their mouth, but instead through a hole in their tongue. Producers such as Sonoma — Artisan Fois Gras (who owned one of the last farms before the ban) have argued against humanitarian claims. In 2012, owner Guillermo Gonzalez claimed the animal’s anatomy can handle the seven-second injection of 400 grams of corn.
“They swallow big fish, they swallow frogs,” said Gonzalez’s wife, Junny.