Op-Ed: The Supreme Court shouldn’t meddle with California’s standards on meat and eggs
In this Op-Ed, the National School Boards Association’s Chief Counsel for Legal Affairs Steve Kopin explains why the U.S. Supreme Court should allow the California standards for the care and treatment of animals on school grounds and in the food system.
In 2005, California passed a law regulating the care, handling and consumption of farmed animals. To comply with the law, school districts must use the federal Best Interest of the Child standard for determining how farm animals will be farmed, treated and slaughtered.
While the law applies to all public schools in the state, it is significant for a couple of reasons. First, as Kopin explains below, it is a landmark for the animals and the public’s interest in their welfare. According to Kopin, “[i]f the Supreme Court rules against the California law and adopts the approach favored by school districts, it would be the first time in history that a court has determined that animals have ‘liberty interests’ and that schoolchildren have a fundamental right to a high-quality food system.” (emphasis added).
The law has broad implications for how animals and consumers of animal products are treated with respect to school districts and their students.
As Kopin explains further in his Op-Ed:
The public has a fundamental interest in food quality, safety, and nutrition and in the safety and welfare of farm animals. So it is perfectly legitimate for school districts to apply the Best Interest of the Child standard to farm animals that come to our schools.
Second, given the importance of the California law to U.S. education policy and the rights of animals, it is important to understand how the law has been interpreted by the U.S. Courts.
The U.S. Supreme Court has taken inconsistent positions concerning the appropriate standard of review for laws that regulate the use of animals. In Animal Welfare: The Growing Debate, Professor John H. Miller, the author of Animal Welfare: The Growing Debate, makes the following observation about the current state of case law on the interaction between animals and the courts:
[A]lthough a number of cases