The Fight Over California’s Foie Gras Ban Isn’t Done Yet
A California court once again upheld the ban, but the challengers still have options available.
Last year, when the U.S. Supreme Court’s choice to not weigh in on California’s foie gras ban led people to speculate that the battle was finally over, you’d have been wise to think that no, it’s definitely not. In fact, as soon as the Supreme Court announced its decision to keep the ban in place, the plaintiffs fighting it announced they’d continue their efforts. And they have, but without a ton of success. This week, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled again that the ban would be upheld.
“The latest challenge essentially recycled previous claims made by foie gras producers,” explained Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society, which supported the ruling. “The court, however, saw right through their tired arguments, finding that on the Commerce Clause claim the plaintiffs had brought ‘substantially the same challenges they brought up in the first case’ and that ‘the developed record does little to change our previous analysis.’”
And yet, even in defeat, the Catskill Foie Gras Collection—a consortium of duck farmers in Sullivan County, New York, and Canada working to overturn the ban—once again focused on a sliver of hope. “The court denied the challengers’ motion and granted California motion but gave the challengers 21 days to amend their claims as to foie gras products that are imported to California after being sold online,” the group wrote in a statement. “The challengers will appeal this latest ruling but, in the meantime, continue to look forward to having their day in court—and to proving the facts that will establish once and for all that the California ban is invalid and unconstitutional.”
After years of back and forth (the law took effect in 2012), it would seem unlikely at this point that the ban will be changed by future legal challenges; however, the plaintiffs are clearly ready to keep the battle alive by any avenue they can get—even if its focusing on something such as online sales. “This fight is not merely about foie gras, this is about our liberty to choose what we eat and for duck farmers like myself, it is also about our right to make a living,” Sergio Saravia, president of LaBelle Farms, a New York-based producer. “We will keep fighting to dispel all the misperceptions about our Farming practices and to uphold our rights as farmers and also uphold the rights of consumers in terms of their food choice.”
In the end, just because a court ruling can change the law doesn’t mean it can change people’s minds. That’s especially true when it comes to duck and goose liver.