Tuesday, June 28, 2011
There have been several preemption decisions this Term (see here, here, and here), and the Court granted cert in another preemption case earlier this month. Yesterday it added one more to the list, granting certiorari in National Meat Assoc. v. Harris (No. 10-224), which presents the following questions:
The Federal Meat Inspection Act ("FMIA"), as amended by the Wholesome Meat Act of 1967 and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, comprehensively regulates the "premises, facilities, and operations" of slaughterhouses where meat is prepared for human consumption. Since the passage of the Wholesome Meat Act, the FMIA has expressly preempted state regulations "in addition to, or different than" federal regulations. 21 U.S.C. § 678. . . . In 2008, California passed a law - the provisions of which were later considered and expressly rejected by federal regulators - requiring federally-inspected slaughterhouses to "immediately euthanize" any nonambulatory animal on its premises, thereby eliminating important federally-required ante-mortem inspection of possibly diseased animals. . . .
1. Did the Ninth Circuit err in holding that a "presumption against preemption" requires a "narrow interpretation" of the FMIA's express preemption provision, in conflict with this Court's decision in Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 540 (1977), that the provision must be given "a broad meaning"?
2. Where federal food safety and humane handling regulations specify that animals (here, swine) which are or become nonambulatory on federally-inspected premises are to be separated and held for observation and further disease inspection, did the Ninth Circuit err in holding that a state criminal law which requires that such animals not be held for observation and disease inspection, but instead be immediately euthanized, was not preempted by the FMIA?
3. Did the Ninth Circuit err in holding more generally that a state criminal law which states that no slaughterhouse may buy, sell, receive, process, butcher, or hold a nonambulatory animal is not a preempted attempt to regulate the "premises, facilities, [or] operations" of federally-regulated slaughterhouses?