Foie Gras BanThe U.S. Supreme Court has decided to uphold California’s ban on foie gras. Foie gras, which means “fatty liver” in French, is a food item created from enlarged duck livers. The livers are harvested from ducks who have had their livers enlarged through a process of force-feeding corn to the ducks. The practice has outraged animal rights activists for decades because of its cruelty.

In 2004, California passed legislation to outlaw foie gras, but it was not until recently, in 2012, that the law went into effect. The law was later challenged by a group of foie gras producers and restaurants; however, in August 2013, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the legislation in spite of their efforts. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected any further appeals regarding the case.

Activists Say Foie Gras Is Cruel and Inhumane

California’s foie gras legislation outlaws any products made through the force-feeding of a bird for the express purpose of enlarging its liver to an abnormal size. Animal rights groups claim that the process is painful for the birds, inhumane and gruesome.

Restaurants that serve foie gras and those who run force-feeding operations say that California’s law is a violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Commerce Clause is intended to prevent individual states from interfering with state-to-state commerce. Nevertheless, those arguments failed to hold water with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided that California has the right to ban the production of the delicacy.

New Laws Can Negatively Affect Businesses

Prior to a new law being passed, lawmakers will consider any ill-effects that the law could have on currently operating businesses. For example, if a new piece of legislation outlaws a particular product, like throw-away plastic grocery bags, then manufacturers of the product (and subsidiary businesses that sell and/or use that product) will be harmed. If lawmakers pass the legislation in spite of the negative economic effects, there will typically be "blow-back" from industries that rely on the product, as they try to assert legal arguments and appeals in court to challenge the law's authenticity. That is what happened in this case, but restaurants and foie gras manufacturers were unsuccessful in their attempts.