top of page

Western Livestock Journal Jul 9, 2021

SCOTUS helps and ignores us

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled on the last day of the term that California could not require non-profit organizations to disclose the identity of major donors, holding that the policy infringed on donors’ First Amendment rights.

The court said California’s policy did little to aid the state in policing non-profit misconduct, but opened the door to possible abuse, including political retaliation against donors who wished their support of unpopular causes to remain confidential.

Activist groups wanted to be able to discover donors to nonprofits that advocated for causes they opposed. The ruling adds protection to freedom of association rights and was hailed by gun rights groups. It could also protect livestock groups in animal welfare causes and political action groups.

SCOTUS also returned other rights to agriculture and property rights in general. Subject to some restrictions, farm labor union organizers had been allowed onto a farmer’s property to lobby farm workers. Those regulations dated back to Cesar Chavez’s 1970s farmworker movement. The more conservative justices on the court, sensitive to government overreach, regarded such access as an infringement on private property rights.

The court ruled that property owners couldn’t be forced to provide access to organizers on their property.

The biggest disappointment was the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the North American Meat Institute’s (NAMI) challenge to California’s Proposition 12’s restrictions on management of farm animals. The rules had been shepherded through the political process by the Humane Society of the United States, prescribing restrictive rules on the size of laying hen cages and swine confinement.

The rules not only applied to livestock management in California, but banned sales of food there derived from non-compliant livestock management systems in other states...


bottom of page