WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2016 - The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has tossed a challenge filed by six states to a law requiring humane treatment of hens that produce eggs sold in California.

Missouri, Kentucky, Nebraska, Alabama, Iowa, and Oklahoma do not have legal standing to pursue their challenge, the appeals court said.

A summary prepared for the court said the states “failed to articulate an interest apart from the interests of private egg producers, who could have filed an action on their own behalf” and that “the allegations about potential economic effects of the challenged laws, after implementation, were necessarily speculative.”

The state’s voters approved a proposition in 2008 that said hens in the state may not be confined for the majority of any day “in a manner that prevents (them) from: (a) lying down, standing up, and fully extending (their) limbs; and (b) turning around freely.”

Two years later, the state’s legislature adopted the standards in the ballot measure for shell eggs sold in the state.

The court shot down one theory advanced by the states, that California’s humane treatment laws are discriminatory “because (they) do not distinguish among eggs based on their state of origin.”

The court, however, said, “there is no discrimination here, whether to the few or to the many. As noted, California egg farmers are subject to the same rules as egg farmers from all other states, including California itself.

The Humane Society of the United States, which intervened with California egg farmers on the side of the state to defend the laws, hailed the decision.

HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle said the court “determined that speculative harm to a few producers wasn’t nearly enough to bring a case in the name of the entire states, and that far from harming citizens, the law might even ‘benefit consumers.’” 

This suggests that our humane ballot initiatives and laws, dealing with production practices and the sale of animal products from extreme confinement operations, are constitutionally sound,” Pacelle said.


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