The Supreme Court Doesn’t Want Anything to Do With the Fight Over California’s Foie Gras Ban

The Supreme Court is staying out of the foie-gras wars.

The highest court in the United States declined on Monday to hear a case concerning California’s ban on foie gras, the Associated Press reported earlier this week. That means a lower-court ruling dismissing the case completely will continue to stand, and California’s law barring the controversial delicacy will stay in place.

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Animal-rights groups have long supported a ban on foie gras, which is made from the enlarged livers of ducks and geese, sometimes as the result of force-feeding the animals. Since 2012, California has not allowed the sale of foie gras, although people can legally order it from out-of-state producers. Farmers and others have pushed back against the ban, however, saying that it limits their ability to do business and negatively impacts their livelihood.

The case considered by the Supreme Court has been going on since 2012, but most recently it was on hold as the justices weighed in on another California animal-cruelty law. In that case, the Court supported a law that requires more space for breeding pigs. In a statement, the groups that brought the foie-gras case denounced both that decision and the Supreme Court’s non-decision in the foie-gras debacle.

“Like farmers across the Nation, we are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s fractured ruling in the pork producers’ case, which allowed California’s politicians to tell people what they can and can’t eat,” said Michael Tenenbaum, their attorney. “And we believe the Court should have agreed to add our case to its plate for the upcoming term, since it presents an even more compelling challenge to these nanny-state bans.” A spokesperson for California Attorney General Rob Bonta said that his office was pleased with the Court’s decision.

California isn’t the only state that’s been roiled by disputes over foie gras. New York has notably been dealing with a similar issue, and earlier this year New York City sued the state to enact its ban on the delicacy. If that case were to similarly reach the Supreme Court, the legislative body’s most recent choice hints that it would likely decline to get involved in the food fight.

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