Massachusetts has agreed to delay enforcement of a law banning the sale of pork and veal in the state that comes from animals not housed according to the state’s confinement standards.

The state attorney general’s office and the Massachusetts Restaurant Association — along with other plaintiffs challenging Question 3 — filed a motion in federal court Wednesday, Aug.10, asking U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf to stay the lawsuit until 30 days after the Supreme Court issues a decision in a case raising substantially the same issue: whether California’ Proposition 12 law violates the Constitution’s dormant Commerce Clause.

[Update, Thursday, Aug. 11: Wolf granted the parties' motion in an order, noting that they had agreed to confer within 10 days after the Supreme Court issues its opinion "and propose a plan for future proceedings, if any," within 20 days of the opinion.] 

The National Pork Producers Council, also a party in the Massachusetts case, is a petitioner with the American Farm Bureau Federation in the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the matter between December and June, the state and the plaintiffs said in their motion. Arguments are scheduled for Oct. 11.

Because of worries about pandemic-related shortages, state legislators updated the law at the end of 2021, delaying enforcement of the pork and veal regulations until Aug. 15, and altering the standards for egg-laying hens. The law was set to take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

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The plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction that would prevent enforcement on Aug. 15, but Wolf ordered the parties Aug. 4 to meet and report back to him on whether they could reach “an agreement that obviates the need for a hearing … including a possible agreement to stay this case” pending the SCOTUS decision.

The parties said they “agree that the Supreme Court’s decision ... may generate controlling law that will substantially clarify, if not govern in whole or in part, the legal issues in this action.”

Voters overwhelmingly approved the ballot measure in 2016. 

In addition to the restaurant association, plaintiffs in the case are HospitalityMaine, New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association, Rhode Island Hospitality Association, Restaurant Law Center, and NPPC.

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Updated with the court's Aug. 11 order.