A lawsuit brought by six state attorneys general challenging California's legislation requiring import compliance with the state's cage size requirements for laying hens was dismissed Thursday by U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller, the San Francisco Gate reported.
The suit alleged that California is unconstitutionally attempting to regulate farming practices beyond its borders.
In 2008, California voters approved a ballot initiative that would regulate the size of egg-laying hens' housing, effective in 2015. To avoid any potential competitive disadvantage to California's egg producers, the California State Assembly passed legislation in 2010 requiring egg producers in other states to comply with Proposition 2 in order to sell eggs in California.
The six states fighting the legislation – Missouri, Nebraska, Alabama, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Iowa – said it violates the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.
According to a previous statement from Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office, the Commerce Clause prohibits any state from enacting legislation that regulates conduct wholly outside its borders, protects its own citizens from out-of-state competition, or places undue burdens on interstate commerce.
Together, the states represented in the suit produce more than 20 billion eggs per year, 10% of which are sold to California consumers, Koster's statement said.
While Mueller did not address the Commerce Clause argument, the SF Gate report noted, she said the states couldn't sue on behalf of their residents because "they were representing only the economic interests of egg farmers rather than 'a substantial segment of their populations.'"
Mueller said the only impact of the legislation on the public as a whole is price fluctuations, the report said.
Continue reading about the six-state California hen cage size suit on the San Francisco Gate site: Judge tosses suit by 6 states over California law on eggs.