Foie Gras Ban

Gobble Down Those Goose Guts, Californians! Judge Strikes Down Foie Gras Ban


Enjoy your extremely expensive cat food!
Credit: Luigi Anzivino

A federal judge tossed out California's silly ban on foie gras today, ruling that federal poultry regulations override state poultry regulations. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that, despite it leading to a non-stupid outcome. From the Associated Press:

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson permanently blocked the state attorney general from enforcing the law that took effect two years ago, finding that the federal government's authority to regulate foie gras and other poultry products supersedes the state's.

California barred farmers from force-feeding birds with a tube, which is how foie gras is produced. The state also banned sales of the delicacy.

The federal ruling came in a lawsuit brought by foie gras farmers in Canada and New York and by the Hermosa Beach restaurant Hot's Kitchen.

Baylen Linniken wrote about the lawsuit in 2013, confident the ban was legally doomed. He tweeted his "told you so" a little while ago. Regulators and law enforcement officials seemed to have very little interest in actually enforcing the ban, prompting animal rights groups to try to sue restaurants directly for serving it. They lost. 

Below, Reason TV on the ban:

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  1. So won’t they have to find in favor of Nebraska and Oklahoma on the CO and WA pot suit on the same grounds?

    1. Not necessarily:

      “Colorado’s legalization of marijuana does not present the same problem. It does not render illegal any act that federal law declares to be legal.”…..-marijuana

      1. No, it’s even worse. It declares legal something federal law declares illegal.

        I hope you’re right.

      2. It does not render illegal any act that federal law declares to be legal.

        To the contrary, it in effect renders illegal an act that federal law declares to be legal — namely the act of federal law enforcement officials going after illegal substance possessors. So, ***raspberry***.

        /SCOTUS logic

        1. Note to self: Refresh before posting.

      3. Right, this was my fear when I read the brief. Thankfully it only works in the one direction. Really would only be applicable to state drug laws if the Fed’s “inspected” all narcotics to make sure they were suitable for sale then a state decided to ban importation form other states.

        As you stated down thread supremacy clause is not a satisfying way to defeat the ban.

  2. “Hey, hold it right there! You can’t go around making retarded regulations! That’s OUR racket!”

  3. Ugh, federal preemption is probably the least satisfying way this could end.

  4. This was a very, very bad way for a stupid ban to be lifted. In fact, it’s probably going to lead to much worse things.

  5. I’m vaguely interested in exactly what a federal regulation looks like that would force a state to permit the sale of a product* that the state wants to ban.

    *non-firearm, obviously, as they are specifically covered by the constitution.

    1. Essentially if federal law is meant to be comprehensive in regulating a ‘field’ then state law cannot prohibit acts/products explicitly permitted by the federal law.

  6. One hopes, against perhaps better reason, that this will also mean that California’s regulate-the-world approach to chicken coop sizes will also be ruled unconstitutional.

    1. Not a fan of federalism?

      1. I am a fan of federalism, a big fan. If CA wants to mandate chicken coop sizes within the state, that is fine. That is not what they have done. They are attempting to regulate chicken coop sizes in all the states.

        1. Not a huge fan of federalism are you?

        2. Really? And how is that? I thought they were barring the sale of eggs made in a certain fashion in their state only.

          1. Because of the size of the CA market it forces egg producers everywhere to adhere to their standards. You know this, don’t be an ass. They could have easily mandated chicken coop sizes in CA, not forbid the sales of eggs from smaller coops anywhere in the universe.

            Locating Central Command in CA is no better than having it located in DC.

            1. Good grief, this is the kind of argument leftists make about Wal-Mart ‘making’ producers do things.

              California’s law only effects egg sales within its state. If you live in Utah and want to sell your eggs in any state other than California, you are totally free to do so. That is in no sensible way ‘making’ producers in any other state do anything.

              1. “Wal-Mart is legendary for forcing its suppliers to redesign everything from their packaging to their computer systems. It is also legendary for quite straightforwardly telling them what it will pay for their goods…Indeed, as Vlasic discovered, the real story of Wal-Mart, the story that never gets told, is the story of the pressure the biggest retailer relentlessly applies to its suppliers in the name of bringing us “every day low prices.” It’s the story of what that pressure does to the companies Wal-Mart does business with, to U.S. manufacturing, and to the economy as a whole.”



                It’s nonsense. Wal-Mart and California provide big markets, but you don’t have to deal with them. Let’s leave that kind of loose idea of ‘making’ or ‘mandating’ to the leftists.

                1. The difference is, with Wal-Mart, as a consumer, I get cheaper pickles. With California, I get MOAR expensive eggs.

                  1. That’s not much of a principle at all. So if a practice results in cheaper stuff for you, it’s a-ok morally I guess.

                    1. Yes Bo, very moral to increase the price of eggs for everyone by forcing people to do what YOU want with their own property. You are amazing. You are NOT a libertarian.

                    2. The point, Francis, is that if there is any FORCING of anyone to do anything by California’s government it is only for those within California’s borders. No one else is FORCED to comply with their regulations, they are FREE to sell their wares outside California. Remember, the leftists thinks Wal-Mart FORCES Vlasic and other suppliers to do this and that with Vlasic’s property too.

                    3. You’ve been lazily feeling your way through this argument, so it doesn’t surprise me your subsequent feeling would be sleepy.

                  2. That’s because you live in California. Do what I did. Move out if you don’t like it.

              2. I realize that you argue bullshit in order to sharpen your skills so I am gonna let this one pass, but I am going to add some advice.

                Argue in good faith, always. The best way to do this is to pick the right side. It is nearly impossible to argue disingenuously and not have other people pick up on that. The instant they do, you lost, and if you do it often enough for long enough, you are lost too.

                Pick the right side and argue in good faith. If you don’t make this a solid habit it will come back to haunt you. To use a religious metaphor, your soul depends on it.

                1. You’re hilarious. Your principles don’t line up here and so you’re going to backpedal into some classic ‘internet arguing where I use words devoid of their actual meaning but sound like dismissals’ spiel. What, you don’t think I actually believe what I’m saying in reply to you? I absolutely do. Now knock your pathetic ‘bad faith’ talk off, and if you have an actual reply to what I said, then make it, or sulk off.

                  1. I wasn’t aware that Wal-mart had the power to make law.

                    You have argued in bad faith here enough times that your credibility is kinda shot and that is part of what I am talking about. I think there is a fable about that.

                    If CA is concerned about chicken coop sizes in CA why didn’t they mandate coop sizes instead of banning egg sales?

                    1. “I wasn’t aware that Wal-mart had the power to make law.”

                      And California doesn’t have the power to make laws over other states. Their law only applies to eggs sold in California.

                      “If CA is concerned about chicken coop sizes in CA why didn’t they mandate coop sizes instead of banning egg sales?”

                      For the same reason why, before federal laws on the subject, some states barred the sale of products of child labor in their states. They don’t want trade in the product because they object to the method of production. But they can only prohibit trade within their state.

                    2. Ok, I will answer the question then. They took the approach they took because they knew damn well that egg farmers in every state would be pressured to comply with CA law.

                      Oh look. In a bill analysis for the law they mention that Iowa is the largest producer of eggs and that they expect their law to be used as a blueprint for other states to pass similar laws.


                    3. At least we’ve moved from forced to ‘pressured.’ Will you concede that if producers want to they are totally free to produce their eggs however and sell them in every state other than California?

                      And states very often put in boilerplate about laws they pass becoming the ‘blueprint’ they expect to see other states pass, that’s the whole ‘laboratory of democracy’ idea. It doesn’t imply or mean any other state is being ‘forced’ to do anything by the law.

                    4. Bo, you’re wrong on this one

                      I hate the way every stupid little clause in the constitution is used as an excuse to increase federal power and bolster the false idea that the federal government is on top of a hierarchy over the states

                      but for once what we’re talking about is covered by the interstate commerce clause.

                      Saying that eggs that were produced a certain way can’t be sold in a state, and deliberately meaning that to include eggs shipped in from other states IS unavoidably a regulation on interstate commerce. We’re literally talking about stuff that is sold from one state to another: INTERstate commerce.

                      I understand that understating it as such has other implications, but some of them are good and some of them are bad, but those consequences are mitigated by the fact that the constitution doesn’t say states CAN’T regulate interstate commerce at all, and LEGALIZING something is Deregulating it and thus outside the commerce clause.

          2. Because CA is such a big market businesses will not preclude selling to them.

            For example, CA passes vehicle emission standards. Car manufacturers are not going to design a car for CA and another car for the other 49 (56?) states. So the rest of us get to put up with CA bullshit.

            Same with chicken coops.

            1. That’s the fault of the large companies that feel they must deal with the California market, just like Wal-Mart is not ‘making’ their suppliers do this or that, rather IF they want Wal-Market’s big market THEN they will have to dance to their tune. But no one is making anyone (outside California’s jurisdiction in their case) do anything.

            2. Very different for small-ticket items like eggs and fireworks than for big-ticket ones like cars. There are fireworks made specifically for the Calif. market because of their regs and for other states that don’t have the same regs.

              What if Calif. just completely banned the sale of chicken eggs? Presumably you’d have less problem with that, because egg producers would simply ignore the Calif. market rather than tailoring to their regs to capture it.

              1. What if Calif. just completely banned the sale of chicken eggs?

                Actually, yes, I’d much prefer that.

            3. I really, really hate to agree with Bo. I hate you for making me do that.

              California just decided that anyone selling a wide class of materials in their state must disclose all of the contained ingredients and their percentages- there seems to be no protection for trade secrets. This is done in the name of air pollution reduction, but applies to ALL products on their list, regardless of whether or not there’s anything in them that could possibly cause air pollution. Compliance costs are enormous.

              The products my company makes are water-based replacements for products that typically have been made with volatile solvents, so are actually advantageous if one cares about air pollution. Nonetheless, despite zero VOC, we are required to give up all of our trade secrets. So… we just said, fuck it, we’re not selling anything in California until that law is changed. Our now-former customers there are extremely unhappy, but not with us. If other companies do the same, eventually the citizens of that fine state will hang the regulators and legislators from the nearest lamp-post. As you should consider doing when you pay $10 for a dozen eggs.

  7. ruling that federal poultry regulations override state poultry regulations.


    1. Hang on, HP. Just wait ’til the UN weighs in on this.

  8. OT: Some of the Je Suis Charlie cartoons I’m seeing are pretty poignant. It would seem they could convince a few Islamists that their way just *might* be flawed. Of course, I’m assuming such people have human emotions.

    1. The reason we are having so much trouble with radical islam is because we don’t understand them and they don’t understand us. None of the assumptions about the world you live in that you have are the same as theirs. They are not the same animals as we are.

      We aren’t going to convince them of anything.

      1. You’re probably right. Even things like “loving one’s child” seem to have radically different meanings across, um, belief structures.

  9. This seems like it could be one of those “battle won, war lost” situations. I’d almost rather have the ban still be in place.

    1. At this point I’d rather just have judges flip coins.

  10. Apropos of nothing, fresh foie gras is about the tastiest substance I know of. Got a whole lobe for Christmas. Will finish the last of it this weekend.

    1. It’s funny, I’m a gourmet, I love stinky blue cheeses like roquefort, I love durian,

      but I foie gras just tastes like wet-canned dog food to me and I don’t like truffles either. And I even love the fatty parts of meats like pork (chicharron w/belly meat, bone marrow), but not foie gras. Go figure

  11. ‘ruling that federal poultry regulations override state poultry regulations.’

    Victory by other means I guess.

  12. How do animals fit in with libertarianism? They have the same hardware we do to feel pain and pleasure, do they really get no rights or moral consideration at all? I don’t really see the fois grad or egg regulations as the same as aisle size or salt and soda bans.

    1. How do animals fit in with libertarianism?

      As yummy foodstuffs.

    2. Lots of libertarians support animal welfare and cruelty laws, some even support versions of animal rights. I personally oppose at least some of the practice of creating foie gras, and I’d support the chicken law we’re talking about above.

      1. It’s a lot like abortion. If you think fetuses and/or animals have the qualities or characteristics that make the NAP kick in then protections for them that restrict others dealing with them would be OK. If you don’t, then they’re not.

        1. Good to hear, and thanks for the serious reply. I’m starting to rrememberwhy I haven’t read the comments here in months lol.

          1. People come to libertarianism in many different ways. For some, they try to find a principle, or set of principles, that seems correct and moral, and then apply it to their lives and political choices, even though it can tough at times.

            Some, though, come at it differently. Some just have an orientation towards the world of ‘I don’t want people telling me what to do.’ It’s a very healthy orientation really. The only problem with it is that it’s more susceptible to only applying that in a way that conforms with one’s personal prejudices (often largely determined by the culture and family where one lives and/or is brought up in). I suspect this is Francis’ story. I know he lives out West, probably grew up hunting, farming or something, in an environment where thinking and treating animals a certain way was really a given, and so it doesn’t get challenged. But really, we’d agree on 9 out of 10 things.

            If you’re interested, here’s something by Robert Nozick, perhaps one of the most famed and intellectually respected libertarian thinkers, on animal rights.


            1. I agree. Unfortunately it isn’t just libertarians, I see the same thing in the vegan groups I visit. Online forums attract the most unpleasant and extreme people.

              I grew up hunting and farming actually so I still have hope for him. Not much though lol.

              Thank you for that link! I’m going to read it a bit later.

    3. Please kindly disregard Bo’s position on animals, as it isn’t a libertarian position in the least bit.

      People have rights.

      1. Francis often confuses his personal prejudices and preferences with libertarianism.

      2. Define people? I’m pretty sure any definition you use is either going to imply things you don’t like our be incoherent?

          1. So we can eat babies, sleeping/passed out humans, and individuals from a equally evolved alien civilization.

            Oh and there is still the problem of defining what ahuman is. There’s like 25 different ways to classify a species if iremember correctly.

            1. Your first two examples do not fall outside my definition. The third may not even exist. But if we find them, I’ll gladly modify my definition to include them.

              1. So at least hypothetically, ‘human being’ is not a necessary requirement, right (since you’re willing to modify to include non-human aliens)?

                1. That would depend on the alien. As, there are no known ALFs, there is no need to go further than humans. It’s just simpler.

              2. A passed out or anesthetized person is definitely not self aware.

                1. Do you dream when you are passed out or anesthetized? I certainly do. I therefore know I exist.

            2. The foregone conclusion that when said being is an adult it will be able to understand and apply the same moral principle that you’re holding yourself too. In this case the NAP. If we’re arguing in speculative fiction where something might be so different that we couldn’t understand they can reason, that might be something to argue but, we’re not. This has only ever been humans on this planet and evolution happens over a long enough timeline that this question is simply silly for anything on the planet earth and isn’t a human. Certainly some humans are not capable of understanding the NAP but, judging that would simply be a subjective assessment not a principle.

              Since you haven’t proposed any other objective metric or classification system there’s nothing to debate anyways.

              1. If you are saying it is about potential that still leaves out mentally handicapped and senile adults. That is the point, when you actually try to say why certain individuals get rights and others don’t, you either have to create convoluted/incoherent first principles or accept things that violate your views.

                Excluding animals from moral consideration is not due to reason or logic, but prejudice. Any definition of persons you create will either include animals or exclude certain humans.

                  1. The limitations of yours have been shown, you have to accept that certain anesthetized humans and other intelligent species are ok to kill and eat.

                    Even if we ignore that there is still the why? Who you grant moral consideration to seems arbitrary and instinctual, not a result of logic and reason. What difference is there using species as the dividing line and using race or nationality? None.

                    1. The limitations of yours have been shown

                      You have done no such thing. You are still aware of yourself when anesthetized (not to mention this is usually a temporary state), babies are aware of themselves and there ARE NO examples of other intelligent species. You saying something doesn’t make it true.

                      It is very much the result of logic. Man is the only known intelligent species that can grasp the concept of rights and lay claim to them. So “humans”.

                      Furthermore, if you do not know you exist, why would you give a flying fuck about having rights? Thus self aware.

                    2. No, a drunk that is passed out or someone who huffed to much NO is not self aware. Certainly not more than the average animal. There are plenty of humans who cannot have a concept of rights nor will be able to do so in the future. Logic has nothing to do with your criteria.

                    3. No, a drunk that is passed out or someone who huffed to much NO is not self aware.

                      Of course I’m self aware. I dream. The room spins. You pinch me I feel pain. I’m aware of my existence. And even if there were a drug that could inhibit by awareness, it’d be temporary.

                      There are plenty of humans who cannot have a concept of rights nor will be able to do so in the future.

                      But humans, in totality, can. No other known creature can, does.

                      You are being obtuse.

                    4. There are in fact anesthesias including alcohol that render people unaware for a time, and you did not specify temporary exceptions in your definition.

                      No the exceptions prove that humans cannot in “totality” total means all. You are the one being obtuse.

                      Animals have self awareness, if this is your main point then you still have to address this.

                    5. I didn’t say aware. I said self aware. Animals aren’t humans. I said self aware human beings.

                      See, it’s right here.

                      If you are a human and aware that you are alive, you have rights. But after seeing that you are obviously brain dead, I may need to reconsider.

                      We’re done, asshole! Pick your nits with someone else. Your premise is false. I’ve excluded no one but those meant to be excluded.

                    6. “We’re done”

                      Agreed, we’re getting no where. Reasonable people will see that you supply only a piecemeal ad hoc definition that fits your biases, that is good enough for me.

                    7. you’re fucking retarded

                      if you’re passed out drunk or anesthetized, you ARE NOT AWARE. You’re not self aware, you’re not any aware

                      In fact, that’s one of the known things about certain anesthesias, that you don’t dream during them.

                      You’re just trying to weasel out of the stupid conceptual corner you painted yourself into

              2. The interaction of the theories of natural rights and evolution produces hilarious results. For the adherents, an entity is either human & has all human rights all their life, or non-human & never such rights. Funny when you consider the position of the 1st humans, who necessarily were born to non-human parents & who probably had non-human siblings.

    4. If the animals are pets, you feed them, clean them, keep them reasonably safe and make sure that they don’t hurt other human beings.

      The same applies to farm animals. They should be killed in a humane manner.

      That’s about it. Animals aren’t sentient beings. They don’t get to vote, get elected to office, etc.

      Although animal marriages could be theoretically legal, since you can legally own a pet without the animal’s permission. You can just call your dog “wife”, receive tax benefits for the puppies, but otherwise treat the animal like a pet.

      1. They are sentient, they can feel pain/pleasure, happiness/suffering. No one is saying they should vote, children shouldn’t vote either. If by humane you mean, treated the way you would want to be treated in a similar situation it is pretty safe to say that 99.9% of farm animals are not raised or killed humanely.

    5. I think it depends on the libertarian. Like abortion, it depends on what your views are outside of the question of libertarian principles. To me, rights are a function of our moral agency. We have moral agency from our consciousness, our ability to reason. That suggests that animals, given their lesser cognitive ability, wouldn’t have rights, or at least the same level of rights.

  13. FDA is right. Animals do not have rights. People do. That doesn’t mean we do not have a moral obligation towards them.

    In spite of my complaint about CA’s approach to the problem, I agree with the law in sentiment.

  14. Gobble Down Those Goose Guts

    Sorry, I’m already full from the Great Green Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts.

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