Supreme Court overturns California slaughterhouse law

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 23, 2012 5:40pm EST

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court struck down on Monday a California law that requires slaughterhouses to immediately euthanize animals that cannot walk, ruling that federal meat safety and inspection law takes precedence.

The justices unanimously ruled for an industry trade group,

the National Meat Association, that sued to block enforcement of the California state law. The justices overturned a U.S. appeals court ruling that the state law could be enforced.

Justice Elena Kagan said the 2009 California law was preempted by a federal law that sets national standards for meat safety and gives federal inspectors at slaughterhouses the final word on what to do about livestock too sick to stand up.

The state law was adopted after the Humane Society of the United States released an undercover video showing workers abusing nonambulatory cattle at a slaughterhouse in southern California.

The state law bans slaughterhouses from buying, butchering or selling nonambulatory livestock for human consumption and calls for their immediate euthanization. It provides for up to one year in prison and a $20,000 fine for any violation.

The Federal Meat Inspection Act provides for a federal inspector to determine whether a nonambulatory animal is fit for human consumption. A provision in it bars states from imposing requirements on slaughterhouses in addition to federal ones.

The federal government supported the meat processors trade group and argued the California law was preempted by the federal law that regulates the humane handling of animals at slaughterhouses.

The Chamber of Commerce business group, veterinarians and pork producers supported the National Meat Association while 13 other states, the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals supported California.

The Supreme Court case is National Meat Association v. Harris, No. 10-224.

(Reporting By James Vicini; Editing by Will Dunham)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
happy2Bfree wrote:
I grew up on a farm. We had a couple hundred head of cows. I have always thought they were cute. And they would come right up to you and let you feed them by your hand. Animals are innocent creatures. People who hurt them for their own sick pleasure are very wicked and I believe they will answer to God one day for it. God cares about the creatures he created. We are supposed to take care of them. And we certainly don’t need to eat meat from sick animals due to being abused.
Proverb 12:10, “A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”

Jan 24, 2012 4:01am EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus