California’s foie gras ban is now in effect for the foreseeable future—a win for ducks, geese, and animal welfare advocates. In an anticlimactic conclusion to years of contentious litigation and debate, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge by foie gras producers and restaurateurs to the ban. The law, enacted in 2004, went into effect in 2012. A district court overturned the ban in 2015, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously reversed in 2017. The Supreme Court’s refusal to take up the case means the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding the ban is the final word.
Foie gras, the fatty liver of ducks or geese, is produced using a procedure called gavage, in which producers insert a tube down the animal’s throat to forcefully overfeed the animal. Fowl raised for foie gras live short, painful, and sick lives before slaughter.
Even Amazon was ensnared in the debate when California prosecutors alleged that it sold the product during the state ban. The online retailer recently settled this case by agreeing to stop sales for at least the next five years and pay a $100,000 fine.