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Another lawsuit challenges pending Massachusetts law on pork production

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court prior to attending arguments in National Pork Producers vs Ross, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, in Washington.
Alex Brandon
/
AP
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court prior to attending arguments in National Pork Producers vs Ross, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022, in Washington.

A new lawsuit is challenging a key part of a ballot question passed by Massachusetts voters in 2016 to give pigs more space on farms. But animal rights activists are urging the state to put the law into effect now.

The restrictions had been paused after a restaurant group filed a lawsuit arguing Massachusetts should wait until the Supreme Court ruled on a similar law in California.

Both states would require pork produced outside the state — but sold within — also meet the new standards.

In May, the Supreme Court ruled the California law was constitutional, and did not violate what's known as the "dormant commerce clause." but Massachusetts Attorney General Andrea Campbell held off on implementing the Bay State's law while her office continued discussions with the plaintiffs.

Midwest pork producers including Triumph Foods have filed a new lawsuit against Campbell, arguing it violates another part of the Constitution — the Supremacy Clause.

Wayne Pacelle, who leads Animal Wellness Action, called the lawsuit one more attempt by producers to delay and thwart implementation of the restrictions.

Pacelle said Massachusetts residents voted overwhelmingly "to stop the extreme confinement of pigs on factory farms."

"These delaying tactics are really injurious to the people of Massachusetts," he said. "How are we filing these lawsuits after the Supreme Court decided the case?"

Campbell's office declined comment, citing pending litigation.

In an email, the head of the restaurant group said there are still issues that were not addressed in the Supreme Court decision.

The 2016 ballot question also put restrictions on egg sales in Massachusetts, essentially requiring them to be produced in "cage-free" facilities. That took effect in 2022 after lawmakers made changes to the voter-approved law.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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