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Thirteen States Ask Supreme Court To Overturn California's Foie Gras Ban

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Thirteen states — including Kansas, Missouri, and Georgia — have filed a brief asking the US Supreme Court to review California's ban on the sale and production of foie gras. The ban was voted on in 2004, and went into effect in 2012, and the states claim that it's a constitutional issue that puts discriminatory barriers against commerce from other states.

Since the ban was enacted, local chefs had gotten around the ban by buying the product online—some are still serving it as a gratis item on tasting menus. (Animal rights activists hacked into the purveyor's accounts and exposed the California chefs who used it, who were then threatened withlawsuits from PETA.) They could be fined $1,000 per sale per day for their disregard of the ban.

Those petitioning the Supreme Court say that the ban infringes upon the farming practices in other states. Attorney Michael Tenenbaum told McClatchy DC that, “The Supreme Court should take the case because it raises an issue of extraordinary national importance in terms of whether one state, like California, can dictate the farming methods to be used by farmers in other states."

Tenenbaum is based in Santa Monica, and is also representing a California restaurant company, a New York state foie gras producer and a Canadian organization of duck and goose farmers. The states have filed separately as well. He believes that though "California may forbid its own farmers from using an established feeding technique," it cannot deprive "out-of state farmers of the competitive advantage they retain."

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris says this isn't an issue the Supreme Court needs to take up. Her team writes in a brief: "State laws prohibiting the sale of products based on concerns about animal welfare, or simply on a social consensus concerning what is appropriate, are not unusual." The brief gives state bans on horse meat as an example.

A decision on whether or not the case will be heard should be made by September.

[Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that it was Mercy For Animals had hacked into the computers.]