12 states launch new legal challenge to egg law

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A dozen states are banding together to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block a California law requiring any eggs sold there to come from hens that have space to stretch out in their cages.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said Monday that he plans to file a lawsuit on behalf of the states alleging California’s law has cost consumers nationwide up to $350 million annually because of higher egg prices since it took effect in 2015. The lawsuit, provided to The Associated Press, argues California’s requirements violate the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause and are pre-empted by federal law.

A federal appeals court panel rejected similar claims last year in a separate case brought by six states, ruling that they failed to show California’s law would affect more than just individual farmers. The latest lawsuit seeks to address that by citing an economic analysis of the California law. It also asks the Supreme Court to take up the case directly instead of requiring that it first move through the lower courts.

Hawley, a Republican who is running for U.S. Senate in 2018, is leading the lawsuit. Other plaintiff states are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin. All have Republican attorneys general except Iowa, which has a Democrat.

The California attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.