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California foie gras ban goes into effect after Supreme Court rejects challenge

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An employee feeds a duck at Hudson Valley Duck Farm in Ferndale, N.Y. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s foie gras ban, ending a long legal battle between animal rights activists and defenders of the delicacy.
(Don Emmert / AFP/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected the foie gras industry’s latest challenge to California’s ban against the French delicacy made from the fattened livers of force-fed ducks and geese, leaving intact a ruling issued by a Pasadena-based appeals panel.

The Supreme Court’s inaction allows the prohibition to finally go into effect.

Diners have been able to order the pricey menu item in California since 2015, after a lower court struck down a law enacted in 2012 banning restaurants from serving the appetizer.

The state law went into effect in 2012 banning the sale of foie gras, but it was challenged in Los Angeles federal court by an association of foie gras producers in New York and Canada, along with a Hermosa Beach restaurant operator, who argued that the measure was vaguely written and interfered with state commerce.

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A 2017 ruling by the Pasadena-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the statute.

According to the law, a restaurant caught serving the gourmet item in California could be fined up to $1,000.

The animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauded the high court’s decision.

“The food industry has failed to end the ban on the sale of foie gras, which is made from tormented birds’ diseased livers and the production of which late 9th Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson — one of the members of the three-judge panel who had heard the case in 2017 — explicitly stated is ‘absolutely cruel,’” PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.