Supreme Court Won’t Touch Foie Gras Law

Photo: © Sudres / photocuisine / Corbis

Eating foie gras is not one of our inalienable rights. Or if it is, the Supreme Court doesn’t feel like discussing it right now. That’s the gist of what was decided when our country’s highest court declined to deal with an appeal of California’s ban on the controversial delicacy.

Back in 2004, the Golden State passed a statue ending the practice of “force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond normal size,” or selling products created using this process. However, the law didn’t go into effect until 2012, leading to the most recent challenge launched by the Los Angeles–based Hot’s Restaurant Group, Canada’s Association des Éleveurs de Canards et d’Oies du Québec, and the New York producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

By refusing to hear the appeal, the Supreme Court effectively upheld the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from last year that the statute is legal. California is currently the only state with a ban on foie gras, but this most recent decision could embolden animal rights activists in other states who believe the force feeding of birds required to make the food is inhumane.

Feelings on foie gras have fluctuated in the US. In 2006, the city of Chicago banned the dish before the mayor called the decision “silly,” ultimately leading to the ban’s repeal in 2008. At the very least, the Supreme Court’s refusal to get involved means lawmakers can feel free to dictate the future of duck livers if they so choose.

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