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Case Digest: National Pork Producers Council et al. v. Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture et al.

Case Digest: National Pork Producers Council et al. v. Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture et al.
This case examined the constitutionality of California's Proposition 12, which set welfare standards for breeding pigs and barred the sale of pork products not meeting these standards. The key legal principle involved was whether this state law violated the dormant Commerce Clause by unduly burdening interstate commerce.


National Pork Producers Council v. Ross involves a significant intersection of animal welfare, consumer health, and interstate commerce, under the lens of constitutional law. The case attracted substantial attention, reflecting diverse interests from agriculture, animal rights, and commerce sectors.

Facts of the Case:

Proposition 12 in California mandated specific living conditions for breeding pigs, notably prohibiting the sale of pork from pigs confined in a manner considered cruel. The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation, representing out-of-state pork producers, challenged this law, arguing that it imposed unfair costs on interstate commerce. They contended that while the law applied to in-state and out-of-state producers alike, its practical burden fell disproportionately on out-of-state producers, as California imports most of its pork.

Issue of the Case:

The central issue was whether Proposition 12 unconstitutionally regulates interstate commerce by setting standards that primarily affect out-of-state producers, thereby violating the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Ruling of the Case:

The Supreme Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit's decision, upholding Proposition 12. The Court rejected the argument that the law violated the dormant Commerce Clause. It found that the law did not discriminate against interstate commerce since it applied equally to in-state and out-of-state producers.

This ruling underscores the state's power to enact legislation affecting interstate commerce, provided it does not discriminate against out-of-state economic interests. It establishes a precedent on the extent of state authority in regulating commercial practices impacting national markets, especially in areas like animal welfare and public health.


National Pork Producers Council v. Ross represents a significant case in understanding the balance between state regulatory powers and the principles of interstate commerce. It reaffirms the principle that non-discriminatory state laws, even those with substantial out-of-state effects, can be permissible under the dormant Commerce Clause.