Six states involved in a lawsuit to overturn a California state law that mandates production practices for all eggs imported and sold in the state will be challenged by the Humane Society of the United States, the group said last week.
In papers filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, HSUS is seeking to file a motion to dismiss the states' lawsuit which aims to overturn AB 1437, a law that stops the sale of eggs from hens in battery cages by 2015.
The lawsuit was filed by Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the governor of Iowa earlier this year. It charges that California's law violates the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution by requiring that any importer of eggs comply with California law.
According to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, organizer of the suit, the Commerce Clause "prohibits any state from enacting legislation that regulates conduct wholly outside its borders, protects its own citizens from out-of-state competition, or places undue burdens on interstate commerce."
AB 1437 grew out of the 2008 ballot initiative Proposition 2, which regulates the size of the enclosures housing egg-laying hens and bans battery cages. California State Assembly later passed AB 1437 to avoid potential competitive disadvantage to California producers.
Koster said the suit wasn't just about farming practices. "At stake is whether elected officials in one state may regulate the practices of another state’s citizens, who cannot vote them out of office," he said.
But HSUS is not pleased with the suit, suggesting that the laws in other states are unacceptable.
"These states are trying to force their sub-standard eggs on California consumers, even though the California legislature has declared such eggs to be repugnant to the state's values and a threat to public health," Jonathan Lovvorn, HSUS senior vice president said in a statement.
If these states succeed in their challenge to AB 1437, HSUS added, the case could hurt consumers in the plaintiffs' states by "making vulnerable these states' own laws that regulate agricultural products for public health reasons."