Mizzou vs. CA egg fight

One reason for the long prosperity of the United States is that the country is a vast free-trade zone. Whatever the trade policies toward other countries over the years — protectionist or free trade — 330 million Americans can trade with one another under uniform rules.

That’s why Missouri is challenging California egg protectionism:

Missouri’s attorney general has asked a federal court to strike down a California law regulating the living conditions of chickens, setting up a cross-country battle that pits new animal protections against the economic interests of Midwestern farmers. 

The lawsuit by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster takes aim at a California law set to take effect in 2015 that prohibits eggs from being sold there if they come from hens raised in cages that don’t comply with California’s new size and space requirements.

If the law goes into effect, it will limit competition for California egg producers, allowing them to raise prices on California consumers.

Federal courts will decide the issue. The key section of the U.S. Constitution is the Commerce Clause, which grants only to Congress, not the states, the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”

Even states’ rights proponents, who favor returning power to the states in most areas, don’t disagree on this one. The Constitution is clear and, despite some deviations over the years, the Commerce Clause has allowed mostly open free trade among the several states.

There are some exceptions, but only for special reasons. For example, California mandates special formulas for automobile gasoline. But that’s allowed because of the state’s unique problems with pollution in the Los Angeles basin. Such exceptions have nothing to with markets for common commodities.

So once again, California’s politicians could end up with egg on their faces.

Tags assigned to this article:
Commerce ClauseJohn Seilereggs

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