A March 28 ruling that favored USDA was vacated April 4 by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, opening up a possibility for the American Meat Institute to still prevail in the dispute.
In setting the March 28 ruling aside, the appeals court for D.C. said that AMI’s federal lawsuit against USDA will be reheard “en banc,” meaning that all 11 judges in the circuit will hear the case.
The parties are being given the opportunity to file written briefs and provide oral arguments to the judges. Filing dates for the briefs are April 18 and April 21, with oral arguments before the appeals court judges scheduled for May 19.
The appeals court order vacating the March 28 ruling asks attorneys in the case to address “whether, under the First Amendment, judicial review of mandatory disclosure of ‘purely factual and uncontroversial’ commercial information, compelled for reasons other than preventing deception, can proceed ….”
AMI is the lead plaintiff in the challenge to COOL. Others involved are the American Association of Meat Processors, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Confedaracion Nacional de Organizaciones (Mexico), National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, North American Meat Association and the Southwest Meat Association.
The North American meat organizations claim that USDA’s COOL rule is an unconstitutional form of compelled speech exceeding the statutory mandate from Congress.
USDA reworked COOL rules to comply with a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling that found the U.S. labeling violated certain trade agreements. WTO will review the new regulations later this summer.
Canada believes the U.S. remains in violation and thinks that WTO will allow it to impose retaliatory tariffs on American products. USDA insists the new regulations will pass muster with WTO.© Food Safety News