A ruling on Jan. 23, 2012, by the U.S. Supreme Court declared that federal meat inspection law supersedes state law, National Hog Farmer reported in the article "Supreme Court Squashes California Downer Law." The 9-0 decision overturns a California appeals court ruling and affirms the earlier holding of a federal district court, said Lance Lange of Faegre Baker Daniels.
When the National Meat Association (NMA) brought a lawsuit against California challenging the state's ban on sales of downer or fatigued hogs, the district court issued a preliminary injunction stopping immediate enforcement. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court's injunction, so NMA appealed to the Supreme Court. The National Farmers Union, represented by Lange, filed an amicus brief in the case.
"Suffice it to say, this is a very important battle that was won as to whether or not the Federal Meat Inspection Act takes precedence over any state law that deals with the operations of a slaughterhouse, but the underlying lawsuit is still ongoing," Lange told National Hog Farmer.
The Supreme Court's decision returns the matter to the district court so they can continue the case while taking into account the decision on federal preemption of state law, Lange explained.