November 13, 2023Media ReleaseThirty Law Professors Warn Congress of Harms of EATS Act
For immediate release: November 13, 2023
Thirty law professors from leading law schools across the country wrote to Congress today to express their joint concern regarding the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act (“EATS Act”) (S. 2019/H.R. 4417).
In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, the law professors explained that the EATS Act is in response to the recent Supreme Court decision in National Pork Producers Council v. Ross, 143 S. Ct. 1142 (2023). The Court in that case upheld California’s Proposition 12—a 2018 ballot initiative prohibiting the sale of certain pork, veal, and egg products derived from cruelly confined animals. While the Supreme Court decision was the prompt for the EATS Act, the legislation is not written to simply circumvent that decision. To the contrary, the law professors warn in the letter that enactment of the EATS Act “would nullify or undermine countless laws across the country, threatening public health and safety and states’ abilities to govern.”
Led by Professor Kristen Stilt, Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program at Harvard Law School, the letter describes how the EATS Act would lead to “an unprecedented chilling of state and local legislation on matters historically regulated at the state and local level” and “create a staggeringly uncertain legal and regulatory landscape.”
As the letter and a recent report by the Brooks McCormick Jr. Animal Law & Policy Program detail, the EATS Act could invalidate hundreds or thousands of state laws and regulations relating to consumer safety, zoonotic and infectious disease regulations, food quality, and safety regulations. The letter further cautions that the legislation would create “an almost impossibly broad” private right of action to challenge state agricultural laws and regulations, subjecting states and localities to a likely onslaught of lengthy and costly litigation.
Professor Stilt adds to these notes of caution, “If Congress adopts the EATS Act or anything remotely like it—even if its proponents claim that they have significantly narrowed it in response to criticism—legislative and judicial chaos will ensue across the fifty states. The short text of the EATS Act belies the fact that it could strike thousands of pages of state laws that protect the health and welfare of the citizenry.”
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