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U.S. Supreme Court

Justices Appear Ready to Overturn California Law Keeping Downer Animals Off the Menu

Posted Nov 10, 2011 11:36 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Supreme Court justices appeared likely Wednesday to overturn a California law aimed at keeping downer animals off of Americans’ dinner tables.

The law calls for immediate euthanization of “nonambulatory” livestock and bars their slaughter, report the New York Times and the Washington Post. Justices appeared likely to overturn the law because it conflicts with a federal law giving U.S. meat inspectors the final say, the stories say.

California Deputy Attorney General Susan Smith argued the state law merely provided for the removal of livestock before federal requirements applied, making it “outside the scope,” of federal law, the Post says. Several justices did not appear to be swayed.

The California law mostly affects pigs because a federal law targeting mad cow disease already requires euthanasia for downer cattle, the Post says.

The case is National Meat Association v. Harris.

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