Mass. Pork Products Law On Hold Pending SCOTUS Review

Laws approved overwhelmingly by voters in Massachusetts and California regarding animal welfare standards could be nullified by a pending U.S. Supreme Court case


By Chris Lisinski, NBC Boston

Sep 19, 2022


Nearly six years after Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved new farm animal welfare standards, regulations governing the production and sale of pork products remain unenforced while officials await a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could nullify the law.


State regulators agreed in court with restaurant and pork industry groups to pause implementation of porcine regulations, which were set to kick in Aug. 15, and instead await a ruling from the nation's high court that might clear the way for Massachusetts to proceed or effectively doom the Bay State's law as unconstitutional.


Stephen Clark, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association that secured a halt to the state regulations, said parties involved in the state lawsuit are now in a "holding pattern" while the case plays out at the national level.


"Giving us the time to know what's going to happen the Supreme Court is going to make it pretty clear what the regulations are going to be," Clark told State House News Service. "We'll know the rules of the road after they issue (a decision)."


The U.S. Supreme Court, where a majority of justices were appointed by Republican presidents, has already been a prominent figure in Massachusetts policymaking this year. Its decision to overturn the national right to an abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade prompted a response law protecting access to the procedure in the Bay State, and a June ruling about a New York state gun law led to a shift in Massachusetts as well. In that case, the court declared that New York could not constitutionally require its residents to demonstrate a "special need" before receiving a license to carry a firearm in public for self-defense. Justices singled out a "good reason" section of Massachusetts law as analogous to the requirement they deemed unconstitutional in Massachusetts.


The fate of the Massachusetts pork law now appears tied to a measure California voters enacted in 2018...