Missouri Lays Egg on California - A Case of the Commerce Clause vs the Immorality of Caged Egg-laying Chickens [236*2]

Got a Strong Stomach, the Way We Treat Other Living Creatures for the Sake of a $$ Is Not Pretty

California 2008 Proposition 2 - The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act

IN 2008, CALIFORNIA VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY PASSED A LAW, to take effect Jan 1, 2015, which would regulate the size egg-laying hens, and other animals, of cages were kept in. The size was increased to provide humane conditions in which these animals could live while serving Californians. This is one of those ethics vs bottom-line issues and in 2008, Californians came squarely down on the side of morality over the greenback. Even so, the cost cannot be ignored.

The issue for the voters was whether California farmers can treat animals inhumanely for a profit; and the answer was a resounding NO. This causes an obvious problem for farmers, however. for to comply with the new laws by 2015, they must make further investments to modify their farming techniques plus the recurring cost of production will rise accordingly. This may not be a long-term problem if the farmers are ingenious enough to find other ways to cut the cost of production.

It does, on the other hand and at least in the short-term, put them at a competitive disadvantage with out-of-state farmers who continue to use inhumane production methods. Consequently, they ask the California State Legislature to provide relief. Sacramento did just that by passing a law that forbid any out-of-state farmers who do not comply with Proposition 2 to sell their product in California (I moved to the more general term of "product" since it isn't just egg-laying hens that Prop 2 addresses.)

This Scene Speaks for Itself

Source

Enter the Show Me State

THIS DECISION BY CALIFORNIA DIDN'T SIT WELL WITH the State of Missouri. It's not that Missouri is a big egg producer, with only 1.7 million eggs when compared with California's 5.5 billion or Iowa's 14.4 billion; but California accounts for 1/3 of Missouri's total egg sales. First Missouri hoped the effort by Big Agriculture to get a provision put into 2014 Farm Bill that would make federal law override California law would succeed. Failing that, the Missouri Attorney General filed suit in federal court to block California by claiming their action violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, the same one that the Democrats bet the farm on in justifying the Obamacare fines and lost, states:

"To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes."

I suspect Missouri might also rely on the Import-Export Clause, Article 1, Section 10 Clause 1 which says:

"No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress."

Given how the Supreme Court narrowed the meaning of the Commerce Clause with their 5-4 ruling that Federal government cannot use this clause to regulate interstate insurance, it is not clear how they might rule in this case. I don't know yet if any other precedents have been set in other Courts, but with California pushing the envelope in regulating food and other environmental initiatives.

In Missouri's favor is a recognition by James Madison during the Constitutional Convention that states cannot tax imports to protect native industries. This idea ended up being the Import-Export Clause. A question one might ask is how different is prohibiting the import of a product is produced in violation of a California law for the purpose protecting the native industries which must abide by the law from "taxing imports"?

Obviously the prohibition is not a tax, but does it serve the same purpose?

What Are The Peoples Rights

I DON'T THINK THIS WILL BE CONSIDERED IN ANY COURT CASE, but about the rights of the people of California to have a say what can and cannot be sold in their state if it offends their sensibilities; which the torture these chickens and other animals are put through should? Obviously, they get what they want by California barring eggs produced in such a horrific manner from being sold there.

But, that wasn't the purpose of the law, was it? The law was passed to protect California chicken farmers. If the anti-cage law against egg importers were passed solely to satisfy the voter's decision, I don't think it could stand up to court challenge; nor should it. As much as I agree with the purpose of Prop 2, it shouldn't be used to bar interstate commerce.

Instead, I think what California should do is require packaging to clearly display what method was used to produce the eggs, maybe including graphic pictures. That way, consumers can make an informed choice and the producers can still sell their eggs to anybody who doesn't care about the treatment of the chickens.

This may be hurtful to the California chicken farmers, having the consumer choose between a higher priced, humanely produced egg or one that was tortured out of the animal.

... And Your Vote Is?

Do You Agree or Disagree That it is OK to Ban the Use of Caged Chickens in the Production of Eggs?

  • Yes, I Agree
  • No, I Disagree
  • I am not Sure.
See results without voting

© 2014 My Esoteric

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Comments 6 comments

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 2 years ago

Animals should not be tortured for anything - no sure I understand this. But how do we know when we buy a dozen eggs if the chicken produced the egg from being tortured?

I doubt that California has a monoply on torture.

Voted up, UI and shared


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 2 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"Failing that, the Missouri Attorney General filed suit in federal court to block California by claiming their action violates the Commerce Clause of the Constitution."- Maybe we can get Justin Bieber to egg the Missouri's Attorney General's house for being a dick ... I would if he lived in Toronto but as it is, he's a little too far lol

"I think what California should do is require packaging to clearly display what method was used to produce the eggs, maybe including graphic pictures." - I agree. Putting photographs of chickens in cages, where they can barely turn around/move, with open wounds and missing patches of feathers, would be indeed a great idea! I would really like to see who would buy eggs coming out of ... I was going to say chickens but those are no longer chickens - they are some sort of egg-producing machine. After all, they are treated as such.

Thank You for writing this article, this way I don't have to (lol). We have the same problem in Canada too. Will share this.

All the best!


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thanks for reading and sharing, Shyron and Mr. Happy.


MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 years ago from Arkansas

Poor chickens, I’m all for chickens’ rights since I come from a state that was formerly a chicken-raising state. Tyson ruined all that, and now hundreds of chicken farmers sit idle here. I don’t think that people realize that both chickens and eggs taste differently when chickens are confined in tiny areas than from unconfined chickens. I say this because how many people have tasted free-range chicken or their eggs. How many people would pay the extra price to get the good stuff? I don’t know, but I do believe in labeling. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Voted up++


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 2 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thanks MizBejabbers. You touched on another sore point, agribusiness forcing out the small farmer, the very people Thomas Jefferson cared most for.


bradmaster 2 years ago

My Esoteric

California also have an air pollution standard that is higher than the federal standard. They also have a special gasoline blend that is not shared with other states, so they can only rely on the California refiners to supply gas. With thirty eight million people and a state that lives by the car, this artificially causes shortages, and raises prices.

The commerce clause was taken out of it usefulness back in the 1940s when it was used to prevent a farmer from having his own private ten acres to grow produce for his own use. The courts said that it impacted on the sale of produce, because he didn't buy his produce from the market. Broadly restated.

The Constitution is not one that you can read literally, because its only real meaning is the one that was adjudicated. In many cases, the courts decisions are illogical, yet if it is the Supreme Court decision, it is the law of the land. The worst SCOTUS decisions are the five to four decisions. How can you really discount the opinions of the other four equally qualified jurists.

Thanks

Brad Master

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