Supreme Court Deals Big Wins for Animals

by Compassion Over Killing Staff

supreme court

In a big win for animals, yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court let stand three important laws: California and Massachusetts’ bans on cage confinement, and California’s foie gras ban.

Foie Gras

California originally enacted a ban on foie gras — diseased and abnormally enlarged liver produced by inhumanely force-feeding ducks and geese — in 2012. The law imposes a fine of $1,000 on any restaurant that serves foie gras in the state. Shortly after the law’s passage, the foie gras industry and a restaurant group challenged it in court.

Although the district court initially upheld the challenge in 2015, just last year the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously overturned that ruling. The industry appealed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to the Supreme Court, which stayed the enforcement of the law.

But yesterday the highest court in the nation decided not to hear the appeal. This means that California’s ban on cruel foie gras will now go back into effect — a huge win for animals!

As with other industries that profit from cruelly-made animal products, the foie gras industry led the fight against this compassionate law. A Compassion Over Killing investigation exposed the suffering behind this “delicacy” at major producer Hudson Valley Foie Gras, one of the challengers of California’s ban — exposing how ducks are forcefully fed large quantities of food to cause their livers to become diseased and swell up to ten times their normal size.

After about 28 days of enduring this cruelty, the ducks are slaughtered and their diseased livers are sold for human consumption.

That cruelty will no longer fly in the state of California.

California and Massachusetts Confinement Bans

In addition to this major success for birds, the Supreme Court also declined to hear challenges to laws in California and Massachusetts that restrict the sale of certain cruelly-produced products from hens, calves, and pigs raised in intensive confinement.

These wins for animals come on the heels of another precedent-setting victories in California. This November, the state voted to make huge strides in the treatment of animals by passing Proposition 12, which effectively bans cruel confinement for hens, pigs, and calves. The proposition applies to animals raised in California as well as products imported and sold in the state, widening the legislation’s reach beyond state lines.


As the state continues to make strides towards greater protections for animals, restaurants and corporations must be held accountable. If you know of a restaurant serving foie gras in California, please let us know at legal@cok.net.

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