The Supreme Court seemed ready Wednesday to block a California law that would require euthanizing downed livestock at federally inspected slaughterhouses to keep the meat out of the nation's food system. The court heard an appeal from the National Meat Association, which wants a 2009 California state law blocked from going into effect.
California barred the purchase, sale and butchering of animals that can't walk and required slaughterhouses under the threat of fines and jail time to immediately kill nonambulatory animals.
But justices said that encroached on federal laws that don't require immediate euthanizing.
Under California law, the ban on buying, selling and slaughter of "downer" cattle also extends to pigs, sheep and goats.
Pork producers sued to stop the law, saying the new law interfered with federal laws that require inspections of downed livestock before determining whether they can be used for meat.
A federal judge agreed and blocked the law, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the hold.
The justices seemed ready to overturn that ruling.
The Federal Meat Inspection Act allows a federal meat inspector to examine and then determine whether a downed animal is fit to be slaughtered for meat. It also says states cannot add requirements "in addition to or different than" its requirements.
The justices are expected to rule soon.
Reprinted in part from Associated Press