California’s Proposition 12 prohibits the sale within the state of certain pork products that were produced using breeder pigs that were housed in a cruel manner, as defined by California law. The pork industry challenged Proposition 12, arguing that it violates the dormant Commerce Clause. The district court dismissed the case, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court then granted review.
Public Citizen filed an amicus brief in support of the state defending the constitutionality of Proposition 12. The brief argued that Proposition 12 is not an impermissible “extraterritorial” statute that applies to businesses outside of California’s borders. In addition, the brief urged the Supreme Court not to adopt the industry’s effects-driven test for extraterritoriality, which would invalidate any state law that had material out-of-state effects on business. The brief explained that such a test would fail to treat all states in an equal manner and would create regulatory uncertainty that would discourage states from enacting consumer-protection laws. In a unanimous decision, the Court rejected the theory that the California law violates the dormant Commerce Clause.