Supreme Court Upholds California Limits on Pork Production

Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

The U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling upholding a California ban on pork sold in the state that was produced from pigs “confined in stalls so small they cannot lie down, stand up, or turn around.” Nat’l Pork Prods. Council v. Ross, No. 21-468 (U.S., entered May 11, 2023). The challenge focused on the ban’s effect on pork producers outside of California—invoking the Constitution’s dormant commerce clause, plaintiffs argued—because the state imports almost all of the pork sold within its borders.

The plaintiffs asserted that previous precedential rulings created an “’almost per se’ rule against state laws with ‘extraterritorial effects.’” The court disagreed. “In our view, however, petitioners read too much into too little,” Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion states. “Consider, too, the strange places petitioners’ alternative interpretation could lead. In our interconnected national marketplace, many (maybe most) state laws have the ‘practical effect of controlling’ extraterritorial behavior. State income tax laws lead some individuals and companies to relocate to other jurisdictions. [] Environmental laws often prove decisive when businesses choose where to manufacture their goods. [] Add to the extraterritorial-effects list all manner of ‘libel laws, securities requirements, charitable registration requirements, franchise laws, tort laws,’ and plenty else besides.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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