The Supreme Court rejected the arguments of the nation’s hog farmers and producers concerning California’s Proposition 12, ruling that the state proposition does not violate the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

California voters in 2018 voted 63 percent in favor of passing Proposition 12, which revised existing standards for eggs sales and put additional standards on pork and veal products that are sold in the state, regardless of whether they were originally produced in the state. The proposition forbids the in-state sale of pork meat that comes from breeding pigs that are “confined in a cruel manner,” which California deems as “cruel” if the animal was prevented from “lying down, standing up, fully extending [its] limbs, or turning around freely.”

In a 5-4 decision led by Justices Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Amy Coney Barrett, the majority reaffirmed the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling that the proposition did not create constitutional issues with regard to interstate commerce.

Justice Gorsuch delivered the opinion of the Court saying, “Companies that choose to sell products in various states must normally comply with the laws of those various states. Assuredly, under this court’s Dormant Commerce Clause decisions, no state may use its laws to discriminate purposefully against out-of-state economic interest. But the pork producers do not suggest that California’s laws offends this principle. Instead, they invite us to fashion two new and more aggressive constitutional restrictions on the ability of states to regulate goods sold within their borders. We decline that invitation.”

The Constitution’s Dormant Commerce Clause generally prohibits the enforcement of state laws designed to benefit in-state economic interests by burdening out of state competitors. The Petitioners in this case – pork producers – argued that the Commerce Clause forbid the enforcement of state laws that have the “practical effect of controlling commerce outside the State.”

The Court rejected this, ruling that only “extraterritorial effects” that deliberately undermined companies and individuals from competing with competitive prices or by creating competitive advantages out-of-state competitors did not have and could not use. As this rule would effect all pork producers equally within California and outside the state, the Court found it permissible.

Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented.

The opinion, concurring in part and dissenting in part, stated that the case should have been remanded to the 9th Circuit where the Pike test would be re-applied to the facts at hand. The test comes from a case (Pike v. Bruce Church Inc.) that ruled that a state regulation is valid under the Commerce Clause “unless the burden imposed on [interstate] commerce is clearly excessive in relation to the putative local benefits.”

The full 58-page decision can be found here.