The Supreme Court once again declined to deal with the matter, but opponents say the fight isn’t over.

By Mike Pomranz
January 08, 2019
Fondacci Markezana, Jean Et Hlne/Getty Images

Even if you’ve been following California’s attempted ban on foie gras, you’d be forgiven for not knowing its current status. Ever since the law was first passed in 2004 — banning “force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size” or selling products created using that process — things have been on-again, off-again like a Hollywood romance. Repeated legal challenges have led to the law being repeatedly enforced, then put on hold since it first went into effect in 2012. Now, the latest development: Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear the most recent appeal. In theory, that would seem like the end of the line, but opponents of the ban have vowed to keep fighting — and seeing as this isn’t even the first time the Supreme Court has chosen not to weigh in on the case, we're inclined to believe them.

By refusing to hear the appeal — which was led by a group of duck and goose farmers who claim that federal law already governs the sale of foie gras meaning California’s law should be superseded — the Supreme Court let stand the most recent decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco which upheld the ban. Despite that decision, California’s ban had been on hold awaiting appeal, but now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear it, the ban should once again be back on. CBS SF suggests that could happen within a day or two.

And yet, according to the site Restaurant Hospitality, the case will now return back to a Los Angeles federal district court — the same court that overturned the ban in 2015. And the lawyer behind the case, Michael Tenenbaum has said that, regardless, he plans to once again ask for the ban to be temporarily put on hold “while the case proceeds to trial.”

So with all the back-and-forth, don’t be surprised if foie gras returns to menus almost as soon as it leaves. That said, some are holding out hope that the legal recourses of those opposing the law might be running out. “From our perspective, the 9th Circuit decision ends the matter,” Kelsey Eberly, a lawyer with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, was quoted as saying. Still, even if it ends the matter of the California law, the debate over foie gras is far from over.

Advertisement