California’s Foie Gras Ban Upheld by the Supreme Court
Litigation - Article Series from Articles Archive

FROM IDA In Defense of Animals
January 2019

Now that the 2019 U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal, the foie gras ban can go into immediate effect and it can finally be enforced!

foie gras pate ducks geese
Photo courtesy of United Poultry Concerns

This week, The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a challenge by the foie gras industry to reverse California’s foie gras ban, a challenge which pushed the ban into a hindering legal limbo until the appeal was heard. Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal, the foie gras ban can go into immediate effect and it can finally be enforced!

Foie gras, which is French for "fatty liver," is produced by pushing metal pipes down the throats of ducks and geese, and force feeding them several times a day until they become sick, and their livers "fat" and swollen to many times their normal size.

Far removed from the minds of those ordering and serving this product, visiting a foie gras farm can only be described as stepping into the set of a real-life horror film, in a dark, windowless, and dirty shed, where hundreds of suffering victims are restrained and tortured on loop until slaughter.

The history of the California state ban has been incredibly long, messy, and complex.

Here is a quick recap:

October, 2003: In Defense of Animals and Animal Protection and Rescue League file a lawsuit accusing Sonoma Foie Gras of violating state laws against cruelty toward animals by forcing its ducks to consume so much food that their livers enlarge to 12 times their normal size.

February, 2004: California Senate President John Burton introduces a bill banning the force-feeding of birds for the purpose of producing foie gras in the state of California (only affecting the operating of Sonoma Foie Gras should it pass), but also potentially banning the sale of foie gras anywhere in the state from outside sources as well.

September, 2004: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs into law a ban on the sale and production of foie gras starting in 2012, to give foie gras farmers time to transition.

July, 2012: California’s foie gras production and sales ban takes effect. Within days, a lawsuit is filed by restaurant and duck farming groups in District Court seeking to lift the ban.

January, 2015: District court Judge Stephen Wilson lifts California's sales ban of foie gras on the grounds that it interferes with federal law which “regulates” poultry products and trumps state regulations (note: the production ban still in place).

February 2016: California Attorney General Kamala Harris files an appeal to restore California's foie gras sales ban.

September 2017: U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rules in favor of restoring California’s foie gras sales ban.

March, 2018: Foie gras industry challenges the 2017 ruling to the Supreme Court, which leaves the foie gras sales ban in a legal limbo.

January, 2019: U.S. Supreme Court rejects the foie gras industry’s appeal, allowing the 2017 ruling to go into immediate effect.

Now that California’s foie gras ban can finally be enforced, we need your help to report any restaurants in California which continue to sell this horrendous product of animal abuse so they can be punished.

Arnold Duck
Arnold was rescued from Hudson Valley Foie Gras in upstate New York in 2002 -
Photo courtesy of United Poultry Concerns

Return to: Litigation