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States challenge California egg law before Supreme Court

[JURIST] Thirteen states filed a motion for leave to file bill of complaint [text, PDF] with the US Supreme Court Monday challenging a California egg law.

In 2008 California enacted California Health & Safety Code ยงยง 25990-25996 [text], which prohibits the sale of farm eggs produced by hens that are kept in a manner that prevents them from "lying down, standing up, and fully extending his or her limbs; and turning around freely."

In their motion, the plaintiff states argue that the California's code "unambiguously" violates the Commerce Clause [text] of the US Constitution. 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) [text] preempts state law and should govern this issue. They draw a parallel between the EPIA and a similar Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) [text]. Plaintiffs note that in a previous decision [text, PDF], 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.

The plaintiff states consist of: Missouri, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin. They seek injunctive relief.

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