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Supreme Court to Hear Appeal in California Non-Ambulatory Case

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

(American Meat Institute)

The U.S. Supreme Court will review a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a National Meat Association (NMA)-American Meat Institute (AMI) lawsuit challenging a California law that bans the slaughter of non-ambulatory livestock of all species. 

The central issue in the case is the law’s failure to distinguish between livestock at rest, which is a common occurrence in swine, and livestock that have no independent mobility due to injury or other conditions.  The law also deems non-ambulatory swine as a "kind of animal" and therefore not subject to USDA inspection regulations if a state requires immediate euthanasia, as the California law does.  The law prohibits federal inspectors from conducting ante-mortem inspections of non-ambulatory swine.  Swine that do not undergo ante-mortem may not be processed.

NMA and AMI initially prevailed at the trial court level in February, but the Ninth Circuit overturned that decision in April.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in its next term, which begins on October 4, 2011.

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