Victory! Court Upholds San Francisco Fur Ban As Constitutional In Response To A Lawsuit By The International Fur Trade Federation

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Last week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a constitutional challenge to San Francisco’s ban on the sale of fur products. The International Fur Trade Federation filed its lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco in January 2020. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society of the United States intervened in the lawsuit, to defend the ordinance’s constitutionality and preserve San Francisco’s right to ban fur.

The fur ban was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2018 and went into effect on January 1, 2019, while allowing retailers until the end of last year to sell off existing inventory.

San Francisco’s ban was built on the successes of West Hollywood and Berkeley passing similar legislation, and paved the way for Los Angeles and, finally, the state of California, to pass similar humane legislation in 2019.

Given the wide array of faux fur products and similar alternatives available to the fashion industry, the San Francisco ordinance was aimed at preventing animal cruelty and environmental impacts associated with fur production by banning fur sales in the City.

More than a year after the ordinance took effect, the International Fur Trade Federation responded by filing a lawsuit which sought to strike it down as unconstitutional. The court disagreed, and issued a decision making clear that the Constitution’s Commerce Clause does not preclude San Francisco from ridding its marketplace of cruel fur products.

“The challenge to San Francisco’s ban was a test from the opposition to the constitutionality against all fur bans, as this legislation gains momentum,” Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director Stephen Wells, said in a statement. “The Animal Legal Defense Fund will continue to defend fur bans, and other animal protection legislation, as voters fight back against systematically cruel industries that profit from the exploitation of animals.”

Animal fur — from animals like foxes, minks, raccoon dogs, and many others — is produced under inhumane conditions to maintain the “integrity” of the animal’s skin, also known as the pelt. Animals are kept in small, filthy cages, that are typically stacked on top of one another, with waste falling onto the occupant below, before being suffocated, electrocuted, or gassed to death. Animals are commonly skinned alive with no painkillers while fully conscious.

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