Image 01 Image 03

13 States ask SCOTUS to block California egg law

13 States ask SCOTUS to block California egg law

Claim California law that requires any eggs sold there to come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages violates interstate commerce clause.

Thirteen states are trying to haul California in front of the US Supreme Court.

While there is a myriad of issues that would be worthy of this move, it is the Golden State’s egg law that the potential plaintiffs want cracked open before the nation’s highest court.

More than a dozen states want the U.S. Supreme Court to block a California law requiring any eggs sold there to come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages.

The lawsuit, which was filed on Monday, alleges that California’s requirements violate the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause and are pre-empted by federal law.

A federal appeals court panel rejected a similar argument last year in a separate lawsuit from six states.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley is spearheading the new lawsuit. He says it includes new data estimating California’s egg law has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually as a result of higher egg prices since it took effect in 2015.

Cali egg rules from CNBC.

At question is a state Health and Safety Code regulation that was enacted in 2008 after the passage of a proposition supporting the creation of these rules. The code prohibits the sale of eggs laid by hens caged in a manner that prevents them from “lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs; and turning around freely.”

Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. These states argue that the California’s code violates the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution and they seek injunctive relief.

They allege the California regulation places burdens on both California egg producers as well as producers based in their states. They also claim the California code raises egg prices for consumers living in California and plaintiffs’ states.

The plaintiffs argue that there is no adequate evidence to support California’s claim that the regulation improves the state’s public health. In addition, the plaintiffs point out it was the California state legislature’s intent to level the egg production playing field against rival states in favor of California producers.

In their motion, plaintiffs argue that the federal Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) preempts state law and should govern this issue. They draw a parallel between the EPIA and a similar Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). Plaintiffs note that in a previous decision, the Supreme Court held that the FMIA prevents states from enacting commerce rules governing the meat industry that would be considered “in addition to or different” from the federal law, itself.

Previously, a federal appeals court panel rejected similar arguments made by six states, ruling that they failed to show the state would affect more than just individual farmers. The new case now cites an economic analysis of the California law while asking the Supreme Court to take up the case directly.

[Missouri Atty. Gen. Josh] Hawley said in a statement that California’s egg law is “a clear attempt by big-government proponents to impose job-killing regulations” on other states.

…The lawsuit cites a study from a University of Missouri economist who concluded that the national price of a dozen eggs has increased between 1.8% and 5.1% since January 2015 because of the California cage requirements. The study said the price increase has added thousands of dollars annually to states’ costs for supplying eggs to prisoners.

The study also estimated that California’s egg regulations have cost U.S. households up to $350 million annually, including about $97 million for those whose incomes are in the lowest one-fifth nationally.

Legal Insurrection readers may recall that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is a general in the state’s war against President Trump. It appears he may have to cease fire for a few moments, as his office indicates it is reviewing the case.

The sunny-side-up aspect of this development is that it appears that the normal states have discovered that lawfare can be used against California to contain and control the progressive inanity that comes out of this region.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


CA has gotten their way with their absurd cancer notices for so long they have begun to feel they control commerce in the entire country.
Growing a bushel of wheat in a midwest State apparently triggers the interstate commerce provision, but forcing Washington State manufacturers to label wine cancer causing does not, even though the wine apparently only causes cancer in California. Because no one can duplicate it.

I want to see the chicken who can stretch “his” legs and lay an egg! I guess they don’t teach science in California.

It is sad that animals have to live poorly to feed us.
While California is the last place we want any regulation coming from, it would say a lot about our society to treat the animals we eat humanely – animals who deserve more humane treatment than the pampered animals we have locked up in our prisons.

    You know, in light of those two thumbs down (thanks, millstein and morris): I’ve seen the light: chicken cages should be smaller. And we should cook them while they are alive. And beat them with chains if they don’t lay enough eggs. And force them to have sex with hollywood pervs before we cook them.

    I think that’s the ticket.

    Like porn pig kim kardashian: I’m a democrat now.

    Well … since egg-laying chickens are workers, not food, they should get benefits, as well. (Or at least some. Not paid vacations, obviously. They already get health care.)

      Milhouse in reply to tom_swift. | December 10, 2017 at 8:26 am

      From Mad Mike Williamson:
      CHICKEN: Human, we need to talk.
      ME: Get out of the house and back into your hutch.
      CHICKEN: It is a coop, and that is what the Poultry Workers’ Committee would like to discuss. The coop is clean, warm and has adequate food and water. But compared to your extravagant…dare I say, PALATIAL habitation, we find that it lacks. Our contribution to the household–
      ME: In exchange for the hutch–
      CHICKEN: coop
      ME: and food, your contribution is pooping out eggs–
      CHICKEN: that phrase is inaccurate, the process–
      ME: You get food, a hutch to live in–
      CHICKEN: coop
      ME: security from the hawks and coyotes at no small expense.
      CHICKEN: But the Committee has discussed the household division and–
      ME: there is no ‘household.’ Now get back to the hutch, poop out eggs, enjoy the food pellets, the scraps and all the bugs you can eat. When you cease your assigned part of the bargain–pooping out eggs–you will visit the house on a one-way trip to the stew pot. GET OUT.
      CHICKEN: The hutch is very nice. I will return there and poop out an egg at once. Many eggs.

    tarheelkate in reply to | December 10, 2017 at 7:35 am

    I buy eggs labeled “cage free” or “free range” packaged in cardboard, not styrofoam. I don’t bother with “organic” vegetables but I do prefer animal products in which it seems to me the animals have been humanely treated. But this is my CHOICE and I have the income to afford those eggs. I don’t stand at the egg case in the store insisting that all other shoppers buy only the expensive eggs I do.

      I get mine free from a friend of a friend who has more chickens in his barnyard than he knows what to do with.

      Fresh brown eggs that are sometimes YUGE double yolkers.

      Fried in a tiny dab of fresh white lard that I get from another friend of my brother. YUM!

I don’t have an issue with this.

First, it seems reasonable to enforce laws about what is sold within state boundaries. You don’t have to follow their rules, unless you want to sell eggs in California. Same for Fuel refineries, or a host of other regulations.
On the converse, it seems the other states are trying to force their laws onto California.

But the commerce clause legality aside…. I also think this is a very reasonable regulation. A square foot per chicken seems plenty reasonable, pretty small in fact. I would be okay with this becoming a national regulation.

    Shane in reply to Coredump. | December 9, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    I think no one should be able to comment on a topic unless they can measurably prove that they have 100 hours of study on said topic or that they have at least a Masters degree in the particular area that they are commenting on. If they break this rule they should be subject to fines not exceeding $1000 or 2 days in jail.

    Seems pretty reasonable to me.

      Tsquared in reply to Shane. | December 9, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      That’s easy, I grew up on a farm. I have thousands of hours of training and experience with chickens, hogs, and cows before I graduated high school.

      Let it hit the citizens in the pocketbook. Once they get fed up with paying crazy high prices they will change the law.

        herm2416 in reply to Tsquared. | December 10, 2017 at 8:03 am

        “Let it hit the citizens in the pocketbook. Once they get fed up with paying crazy high prices they will change the law.”

        I’ve never seen an instance of this.

          Tsquared in reply to herm2416. | December 10, 2017 at 12:11 pm

          History is full of things like that. The best one was an oppressive tax on tea. A bunch of people up in Boston dressed up and dumped a shipload into the harbor. The law was eventually done away with. To add more we also switched over to coffee.

        Chicklet in reply to Tsquared. | December 10, 2017 at 2:08 pm

        I keep having to buy $7 LED light bulbs, which glow a nasty bluish or yellowish color, every time an old incandescent bulb burns out. I can’t get spotlights at any price. I can’t even find those mercury-rich CFL bulbs any more, they were $3.

        Everyone hates this law, but it wasn’t changed.

      fogflyer in reply to Shane. | December 10, 2017 at 12:55 am

      So, I can safely assume that you have a Master’s degree in criminal justice?

    buckeyeminuteman in reply to Coredump. | December 9, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    It might seem reasonable to some yuppie who thinks eggs come from Whole Foods. It most certainly isn’t reasonable if you are a chicken farmer who already has tens of thousands of cages that don’t meet California’s new subjective standard.

    “On the converse, it seems the other states are trying to force their laws onto California.”

    It’s always remarkable to me how Progressives of every stripe convince themselves that they are the smartest people in the room, and then they type stuff like this. You know: not-smart stuff. 🙂


    DaveGinOly in reply to Coredump. | December 10, 2017 at 12:30 am

    The main purpose of the commerce clause was not to put the authority over interstate commerce into Cogress’s hands, but rather to remove everything to do with interstate commerce from the authority of the states. In particular, it was meant to prevent a state or states from jimmying its/their laws such that it favors certain ports or certain manufacturers (their own, of course) over others. (Although the law under consideration here actually put CA producers at a disadvantage to other producers, insisting those other producers meet the same standard to sell their product in CA is CA’s attempt to re-level the playing field, after tipping it against their own industry. CA adversely affected one of its own industries, and, in turn, is attempting to likewise adversely affect the same industry in other states.)

    The problem here is similar to a problem I cited a few days ago. In that comment, I mentioned the PA resident who traveled into NJ with hollow point bullets and was arrested for doing so. I wanted to know how the legislature of one state can reach the property rights of citizens in other states, when those citizens have had neither the due (judicial) process necessary to strip them of their property rights, nor the representation within the other state (in this case NJ) that could have protected their rights from being legislated away.

    Here we have CA’s regulation about eggs doing the same thing – reaching producers in other states who had no representation in the drafting and passage of legislation that affects their production. This is exactly why the authors of the Constitution took jurisdiction over interstate commerce away from the states – to prevent the states from negatively impacting the industries of other states and their ability to sell their wares to consumers throughout the Union.

      tom_swift in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 10, 2017 at 1:21 am

      The major concern in that period was the possibility of individual states inhibiting shipping routes. If, say, Kentucky decided to impose a toll on all Mississippi traffic, the states both upstream and downstream would be seriously affected. (Of course Kentucky wasn’t a state at the time, but they were planning ahead.)

      One of the first Supreme Court cases involved a dispute between NY and New Jersey, who both wanted to tax their own ends of a Hudson River ferry route.

      4th armored div in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 10, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Dred Scott revisited ?

    TX-rifraph in reply to Coredump. | December 10, 2017 at 4:13 am

    “seems reasonable” based on what? One square foot = 144 square inches. Why not 145? Or, is 143 “reasonable?” If one square foot is good, wouldn’t 50 square feet be better? We could even apply this kind of thinking to minimum wages.

    What if I don’t have an issue with torturing prisoners daily if they had harmed their victims in any way? What if that seemed reasonable to me? What if it seems reasonable to me to ignore the Constitution?

    Thank you for the lesson on how to “think” like a Democrat.

      TX-rifraph in reply to TX-rifraph. | December 10, 2017 at 4:55 am

      Further, didn’t it seem “reasonable” to the Democrats to form the Klan and deny the freed slaves and their descendants their rights as human beings and citizens of the USA? Many Democrats had “no issue” with that atrocious behavior.

    rdmdawg in reply to Coredump. | December 10, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    I absolutely did not mean to upvote this worthless crap but the hitbox for upvote/downvote is a bit off, as if anyone still cares about upvotes/downvotes.

    This is nonsense and a perfect example of why we need to get west coast/San Francisco values out of our federal government and federal laws, and hold California to the interstate commerce act.

    You do understand that it’s the poor who pay the price for your narcissistic, feel-good campaigns as a higher percentage of their income is spent on food.

    If you want to feel smug and superior, do it on your own dime and buy whatever foods you want. Don’t force your worthless values on the rest of us.

The question is “who’s egging on whom?”

This depends on how the law is interpreted. It can very easily be used as a clever wedge to force everyone in all states to adapt to their practices.
How’s that?. Easy. If fully enforced, Every item which contains eggs or egg products and which may eventually be sold in California triggers a threat of legal liability on upon its seller. The defense needed is proof that it’s eggs were created according to California laws. As it turns out eggs are in many food products, supplements such as protein powder, and in places you don’t think much about such as ice cream and noodles. Imagine being fined into losing your business because you were the last link in a chain selling a truck full of Cliff Bars that were distributed in California. Some of the people who drafted this law intend to reach outside CA, chain effects are part of the activist playbook.

    DaveGinOly in reply to beagleEar. | December 10, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Of necessity they had to intend this to reach into other states. The law adversely affects their own producers, putting them at a disadvantage to producers in other states. The only way to re-level the playing field is to impose the same disadvantage on the producers in other states. This is legislative overreach, and why all such legislation is unconstitutional. (This includes laws about firearms and automobiles – because the laws affect industries in other states, industries whose products move in interstate commerce to get to CA, putting their products under the exclusive legislative jurisdiction of Congress, and removing their products from the legislative jurisdiction of the state of California.)

Nope, let the stupid Kali law stand. The other states need to ship their eggs north and east. When eggs get scarce in Kali the law of supply and demand will be evident. A dozen eggs will be $15 to $20. The citizens will demand the law be changed.

    rdmdawg in reply to Tsquared. | December 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    California is too big to write-off. This is how Chicago effectively got shortening banned in the entire US. Also, just about all of the business customers of egg farmers are concerned about being able to sell their products in California also.

    If nothing changes, they’ll all end up complying.

How do they propose to enforce this? They can’t inspect farms in other states. Can you tell by looking at an egg if the hen had ample legroom? Are they going to stop trucks at the border? Raid grocery stores? The guy selling marijuana is fine but sell some eggs and you’re in big trouble.

    tarheelkate in reply to BrokeGopher. | December 10, 2017 at 7:29 am

    They’ll just go to court to make producers prove that their eggs (or products containing eggs?) meet California standards. Being hauled into court is so expensive that producers will either avoid California entirely or meet the state standards. It’s the same way leftists enforce many of their ideas.

Speaking of which…. Do you know what they call the chicken as it crossed the road?

Poultry in motion.

Why wouldn’t egg producers who meet the CA standards sell eggs to CA incorporating the price it takes to produce them, with those who don’t selling everywhere else?

This is a yolk, right? Scrambled logic like this just cracks me up! We’re going to need a hard boiled PI to shell out some dough and look into these poachers.

Subotai Bahadur | December 10, 2017 at 4:48 pm

To be honest, it strikes me that anyone who sells any product across state lines should be tracking the costs of selling their; be it taxes, regulatory costs both imposed in the state and outside the state, etc. This should be for all products, food, electricity, all the special blends of fuel, cars, etc. And this should be tracked with a view of constantly reviewing whether the cost/effort of compliance with a state’s impositions is worth it. They may decide to comply. Or they may decide that they will say drop California for instance from their marketing area and withdraw all business operations from there. California loses whatever tax revenue. California consumers lose choices. And the manufacturer gets to run their business as they please.

Will this be the case in the matter of the eggs? Maybe, maybe not. But I would love to see some major supplier of a major good withdraw from a market that is trying to run the industry. If the Peoples’ Democrat Republic of Alta California decides to create their own collective farms for say eggs, I’m pretty sure that they will cost more, be less efficient and more corrupt, and have an exemption from any inconvenient regulations.

I remember when I was a kid NJ/NY always had the best tasting milk according to Consumer Report test results. NY/NJ both required milk be sold within 48 hours of pasteurization. Some states had as long as 10 or 12 days!

Now it’s 12 days everywhere because the 48 hour rule interfered with interstate commerce. Especially to Hawaii which also had restrictive pasteurization sell by date and the nation’s highest milk prices due to lack of suitable grazing land and inability to ship milk to Hawaii within the sell by period.

If any family member inadvertently buys milk with 5 days or less remaining to to the sell by date I dump it without without even bothering to smell it. I comb the dairy case to get the milk with the most number of days to go.

I’d say based on previous court decisions like that that the CA egg rules easily fall into the illegally interferes with interstate commerce rules.

People have to understand what drives the State of California; lunacy.

The politicians in Sacramento wanted to appease the lunatic fringe animal activist movement, which amounts to a sizable number of voters in the Cereal State [the land of the fruits the flakes and the nuts]. And these activists had a bee in their bonnets about the size of living spaces for egg laying chickens. So, the Legislature set the standards that the activists wanted. However, this would have significantly impacted the bottom line for California egg producers, in a negative way. The solution, arbitrarily impose California standards on the rest of the country. And, that is where a violation of the commerce clause comes in.

The State of California is free to impose any standards that they want on business operations within their state boundaries. However, they can not impose, either directly of indirectly standards on business operations in other states. If they could then a state could refuse to allow the sale of manufactured goods from any business which did not pay their workers a certain wage or provide a certain benefit package. And, it they did this after imposing such restrictions upon business within their state, in order to protect those businesses, then this would be a violation of the commerce clause, especially if federal laws already were in place which regulated such things.

Without claiming any expertise, I agree that CA has violated the federal interstate commerce rules. When the SCOTUS votes that it cannot apply to other states, will CAFE and other CA wickedness also be in jeopardy?