Supreme Court keeps California ban on foie gras intact

Seared foie gras with wild berry and mocha moose.
Seared foie gras with wild berry and mocha moose.
(Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times)

A challenge to a California law that bans the sale and production of foie gras, the fatty liver of force-fed ducks, was dismissed by the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Canadian Farmers, Hudson Valley Foie Gras and the Hot’s Restaurant Group, based in California, had appealed a lower court decision upholding the law in a filing with the Supreme Court. The companies argued the law negatively impacts interstate commerce.

California’s ban on force-feeding birds for the purpose of fattening the liver was enacted by the Legislature in 2004 and took effect in 2012. Possession of foie gras in California is not illegal.


Several lower courts have upheld the law.

In July, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris said the law is nothing out of the ordinary.

“State laws prohibiting the sale of products based on concerns about animal welfare, or simply on a social consensus concerning what is appropriate, are not unusual,” she wrote in a brief, citing various states’ laws prohibiting the sale of horse meat.

It’s not the first time California has been sued over a law aimed at improving the lives of animals: In March, six states sued California over a law that requires egg-laying hens be given larger cages.

Staff writer Russ Parsons contributed to this report.

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