California Egg Lawsuit with Oklahoma

And here we all thought only fraternities and Halloween trick-or-treaters had egg fights.  Sounds like California and Oklahoma ( are gearing-up for one heck of a humdinger! 


And here we all thought only fraternities and Halloween trick-or-treaters had egg fights.  Sounds like California and Oklahoma ( are gearing-up for one heck of a humdinger!

What’s more, it seems the two states are going to finally get the legal community’s answer to the question of which comes first, the chicken or the egg.  California says, the chickens should rule the roost, not the eggs.  Oklahoma and its buddies disagree.

Can California require chickens be given more humane treatment at egg farms and if such coops are not roomy enough to the satisfaction of Cal., can the state ban the importation of eggs from those cramped chicken-coop farmers in other states? 


“No room for legs, only eggs” – reportedly says many a chicken farmer across the nation.  “Well…, you better make room for your chickens’ legs,” replies mighty the mighty Cal., representing a market of 9 billion eggs per year.  “At least if you want a piece of our lucrative egg market, you better do as we tell you,” adds Cal.

Oklahoma, tired of being scrambled, fried, and yes, even poached in the matter, as it sees it, says “we and our 700,000 eggs per year are gonna’ show you our sunny-side, Cal., and we’ll see you in court!  You’re not gonna tell us we have to be more kind, or more friendly, or more whatever to our chickens!  You’all aint got ‘da right to tell us nothin’! ‘Cause, them there are our chickens.  We can do with ‘em as we please!  Moreover, we got twelve of our buddy states gonna’ be joinin’ us in sayin’ the same ‘darn thing!  You gonna’ be lookin’ funny with all that egg on your face after we through with you, Cal.!”

The stage is being set for the biggest egg-fight of all time.  Happier chickens v. cheaper eggs at market.


The biggest egg-fight of all time is brewing.  As Constitutional doctrine hangs in the balance, along with the claimed billions of dollars in increased/cumulative costs to the chicken farmers juxtaposing the more humane treatment of animals, the legal battle could get hot enough to fry an egg.

Does the Commerce Clause / U.S. Federal Constitution allow for Cal. to ban the products from other states that are not friendly enough to their chickens while the birds roost in the other states and places like Enid, Oklahoma?  Is the interest of the birds in Stillwater compelling enough to Cal. to allow for it all?  Does the Dormant Commerce Clause already forbid it? Well, we are likely to find out before too long.


A federal appeals court panel rejected similar claims last year in a separate case brought by six states, ruling that they failed to show California’s law would affect more than just individual farmers. The latest lawsuit seeks to address that by citing an economic analysis of the California law. It also asks the Supreme Court to take up the case directly instead of requiring that it first move through the lower courts.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate in 2018, is leading the lawsuit. Other plaintiff states are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin, along with Oklahoma.

Its lookin’ to be the battle of the fly-over states v. the left coast.  And the Constitution is likely to be watching it all with a bird’s eye view.  The fly-over states are not about to let it all go to the birds, either.  But don’t count on it all to take only three minutes for these eggs to be cooked.

“Proposition 2 was a California ballot proposition in that state’s general election on November 4, 2008. It passed with 63% of the votes in favor and 37% against. Submitted to the Secretary of State as the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, the initiative’s name (as with others such as Proposition 8) was amended to officially be known as the Standards for Confining Farm Animals initiative. The official title of the statute enacted by the proposition is the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.

The proposition adds a chapter to Division 20 of the California Health and Safety Code, [2], to prohibit the confinement of certain farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs. The measure deals with three types of confinement: veal crates, battery cages, and sow gestation crates.”


“By its extraterritorial regulation of egg producers, California has single-handedly increased the costs of egg production nationwide by hundreds of millions of dollars each year,” the lawsuit reads.

The issue stems from when voters in California approved an initiative in 2008 that required the state’s egg producers give each egg-laying hen at least 116 square inches of space. After an outcry from California producers that they would be put at a competitive disadvantage, California lawmakers passed a law that would require all producers selling eggs in the state to provide the same floor space.”

“Enter AB 1437. In 2010, the California Legislature made it a crime to sell a shelled egg in California, if that egg came from a hen that was confined in a cage not compliant with the Proposition 2 standards. This law too was effective January 1, 2015.”  From:

Health and Safety Code – HSC

DIVISION 20. MISCELLANEOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY PROVISIONS [24000 – 26217]  (Division 20 enacted by Stats. 1939, Ch. 60. )

CHAPTER 13.8. Farm Animal Cruelty [25990 – 25994]

Cal Health & Saf Code § 25996

Plaintiff States lacked standing under parens patriae doctrine to pursue claims challenging California laws governing sale of shell eggs because they had not brought action on behalf of their interest in physical or economic well-being of residents in general, but rather on behalf of discrete group of egg farmers whose businesses would allegedly be impacted. Missouri v. Harris (E.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 2014), 58 F. Supp. 3d 1059, 2014, aff’d, (9th Cir. Cal. Nov. 17, 2016), 842 F.3d 658, 2016, (9th Cir. Cal. Jan. 17, 2017), 847 F.3d 646, 2017.

States lacked parens patriae standing to challenge California’s prohibition against sales of eggs from hens who were not housed in compliance with California’s animal care standards; alleged harm to egg farmers did not support standing, allegations that the price of eggs to consumers would fluctuate were speculative, and California’s laws were not discriminatory. Mo. ex rel. Koster v. Harris (9th Cir. Cal. Nov. 17, 2016), 842 F.3d 658, 2016, modified, (9th Cir. Cal. Jan. 17, 2017), superseded, (9th Cir. Cal. Jan. 17, 2017), 847 F.3d 646, 2017.

Where plaintiff states appealed district court’s dismissal of their complaint for lack of parens patriae standing, since they could not articulate an interest apart from the interests of particular private parties, they had not met the first requirement for parens patriae standing; alleging harm to the egg farmers in the states was insufficient to satisfy the first prong of parens patriae standing. Mo. ex rel. Koster v. Harris (9th Cir. Cal. Jan. 17, 2017), 847 F.3d 646, 2017 U.S. App., cert. denied, (U.S. May 30, 2017), 137 S. Ct. 2188, 198 L. Ed. 2d 255, 2017.


Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said the regulation is placing an excessive burden on farmers and families across the country.  “This unconstitutional policy is forcing farmers to invest in expensive infrastructure and driving up the cost of eggs for families,” Hunter said in a statement.  Oklahoma’s egg production in 2016 was approximately 692 million eggs, worth nearly $79.1 million.

California produced about 5 billion eggs and imported an additional 4 billion from other states in 2012, according to the lawsuit. Thirty percent of those out-of-state eggs came from Iowa, the nation’s top egg producer. About 13 percent of California’s egg imports came from Missouri, the second highest percentage cited in the lawsuit.

The fly-over states are not about to let it all go to the birds, either.  No California grizzlies to fear in the heartland, they figure.  So, it’s no yolking matter here.  They mean business!

“California voters approved a 2008 ballot measure that required pigs, calves and egg-laying hens to be raised with enough space to allow them to lie down, stand up, turn around and fully extend their limbs.  California legislators later expanded the law to ban the sale of eggs in the state from any hens that were not raised in compliance with its animal care standards.”  From: (2014).

“Missouri Atty. Gen. Josh Hawley said in a statement that California’s egg law is “a clear attempt by big-government proponents to impose job-killing regulations” on other states.”  The [Univ. of Mo.] study also estimated that California’s egg regulations have cost U.S. households up to $350 million annually, including about $97 million for those whose incomes are in the lowest one-fifth nationally.  From:

“The Supreme Court declined to hear a similar challenge from Hawley earlier this year, but this lawsuit includes an economic impact study which he hopes convinces the justices to see it his way.”  From:

AG Hawley Renews Fight to End California’s Restrictive Farming Regulations

Defending Missouri’s farm communities from aggressive over-regulation

Dec 4, 2017, 11:26 AM


“Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Commission, 432 U.S. 333 (1977), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously struck down a North Carolina law prohibiting the sale of apples in closed containers marked with any apple grade other than the United States Department of Agriculture grade. However, displaying the USDA grade was not required. Washington state, a major apple producer, used apple standards superior to those used by the USDA. The Court found that North Carolina’s law violated the Commerce Clause by discriminating against Washington state apple producers while working to the advantage of local North Carolina apple growers.”  From:

For the Washington Apple v. North Carolina case opinion, see also:


MISSOURI EX REL. KOSTER v. HARRIS, 847 F.3d 646 (2017)

Prior matter

Appeal from State of Missouri, et al. v. Harris, et al., No. 2:14-cv-00341-KJM-KJN (E.D. Cal. Oct. 2, 2014).

Missouri v. Harris, No. 14-17111


California’s Scrambled Eggs

The state’s new chicken-coop law is hitting human beings hard.


14-17111 State of Missouri v. Kamala Harris

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