Supreme Court Justice’s Just

Throughout US history, the Supreme Court of the United States has had to decide many complex issues: civil Rights, Abortion, Discrimination, School Segregation, and the Right to Remain Silent when arrested. 

Along with the rights of people to be protected, the long-reaching legal arm of the Justices has rendered their decision agreeing with a California law that protects the humane conditions of pigs. 

Prop 12 dictated that each pregnant sow needs about 24 square feet of space to be considered humane housing and for the pigs to be healthy. 

California’s Proposition 12 (Prop 12) deals with breeding pigs and their offspring being housed or “confined in a cruel manner.” The meat produced by such pigs cannot be sold in the state of California, whether they were produced in California or another state or country. 

The US Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the pig confinement case in October 2022. Pork industry lobbying groups challenged Prop 12 over its definition of how much space a mother pig, laying hens, and baby cows is required under the law to be considered humane confinement. 

The American Farm Bureau and the National Pork Producers Council called Prop 12 unconstitutional. Their argument claimed the law violated the “dormant commerce clause” in the constitution that imposes an unfair burden on interstate trade. 

The food industry giants were concerned that other states might follow California’s lead and each state would create their regulations on food production. 

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion in the case, but Elana Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett, Clarence Thomas, and Sonya Sotomayor dissented on all counts. Barrett and Sotomayor gave separate opinions on their disagreement with parts of the Gorsuch opinion. 

They felt the case should be handed back to the lower courts and suggested that instead of taking any easy route with nine justices, they might want to think about persuading the 435 members of Congress to their way of thinking. 

Prop 12 was ruled constitutional by a five-to-four decision of the high court.