Prop 2 violates the very basics of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution
With the debate of Prop 2 in full swing and expected to hit the deadline for compliance on January 1, 2015, a few states have already expressed their displeasure with the mandate – passed in 2008 by California voters — through a lawsuit. The states that filed that lawsuit include Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Iowa. They say Prop 2 violates the very basics of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, and they claim the extremely high costs of compliance may very well drive their farmers out of business. Just to recap, any farmers – both in and out of California – who wish to keep selling their eggs within that state must enlarge their current chicken coops to sizes outlined in Prop 2.
The problem is, the high cost of conversion is cost prohibitive to many farmers who simply can’t afford the massive financial outlay it will take to stay in compliance. While proponents of the new law say the humane treatment of egg-laying hens is at stake here, the detractors from out of state say it’s unconstitutional to put those kinds of demands on farmers lest a new pattern of regulation emerges that paves the way for further government hand-holding.
Step up and put their money where their mouth is
In August of this year, the National Association of Egg Farmers sent a letter to other area egg producing states such as Illinois, Minnesota, South Dakota, Texas and Utah urging the attorneys general in those states to send a letter of support on behalf of egg farmers in the states who have filed the lawsuit. The letter essentially asks eggs farmers in these states to step up and put their money where their mouth is, in effect, to show their backing of the lawsuit and reinforce the idea of all egg farmers uniting in this cause. They feel that it’s about time other states who will be affected by Prop 2 step up and do their part to defend themselves against a mandate they feel is unfair at best and unconstitutional at worst. Of course, these states could play California’s own game and place warning labels on foods it imports to the state, just as the Golden State does. However, this could lead to the same restrictions on the free flow of products among all states, which is what the lawsuit s trying to stop: interstate trade barriers that are prohibited by the Commerce Clause, says the Reason Foundation. Missouri and other states know this, which is why they are taking the legal route on a cause that isn’t just about egg production or even about the humane treatment of animals. At the very heart of the debate is whether or not a state, like California, has the right to intrude into these Constitutional gray areas and start dictating how farmers run their operations.
Whether more states jump on the Prop 2 lawsuit bandwagon remains to be seen, but whatever happens, the deadline of January 2, 2015 still looms large.