U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Prop 12, Preserving Landmark Protections for Pigs, Chickens and Calves!

May 15, 2023

pigs in grass
  • Despite heavy pushback by the pork industry, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld California’s Proposition 12 as constitutional.
  • Proposition 12 was a ballot measure passed by California voters in 2018 and illustrates consumer demand for more humanely produced animal products.
  • The Supreme Court ruling affirmed the ASPCA’s arguments that states may pass laws to protect the health and welfare of animals and that Prop 12 does not create a substantial burden on interstate commerce.
  • This victory offers hope that the cruel confinement of animals on factory farms can finally come to an end.

On May 11, 2023, the United States Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in the landmark case National Pork Producers Council & American Farm Bureau Federation v. Ross, et al., upholding California’s Proposition 12 (“Prop 12”) as constitutional. With this decision, the Court delivered a huge victory for animals by affirming that animal-welfare protections may be created at the state level and finding the petitioners’ claims that Prop 12 created a substantial burden on interstate commerce to be insufficient.

The ASPCA filed an amicus brief [PDF] in support of Prop 12 last summer, urging the Supreme Court to uphold Prop 12 based upon the long held legal principle that states have the right to pass laws to protect the health and welfare of animals. We also advised the Court that, despite petitioners’ argument that Prop 12 was an “undue burden” on commerce, producers can—and are already—successfully segregating supply chains. (It is entirely feasible for companies to segregate supply chains so that only portions of their business comply with Prop 12, or they could make the economic decision not to comply with the California law and instead withdraw from the state’s market.)

The ASPCA is proud to have played a role in helping to ensure that Prop 12 and the positive impact it will have on the welfare of pigs, chickens and calves remains valid and enforceable. Though millions of pigs still suffer in gestation crates across the country, this ruling offers hope that the era of extreme confinement of farm animals is heading to a close. 

Support for independent farmers already engaging in higher-welfare practices is critical, along with support for farmers trying to leave the industrial confinement farming model and improve the welfare of their animals. The ASPCA supports farmers through grantmaking and policy work, including our ongoing effort in California to create a Resilient Farms and Ranches grant program to help farmers afford improvements to adopt higher-welfare and welfare-certified farming systems. 

Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade so you can take action to improve the lives of animals in your state, and if you live in California, take action today to support the Resilient Farms and Ranchers Program!