SAN FRANCISCO — On Tuesday, March 30, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a challenge to San Francisco’s fur ban, upholding its constitutionality.
The International Fur Trade Federation (IFF) made several attempts to amend its complaint ever since it filed a lawsuit in January 2020 against the City, County of SF and Dr. Grant Colfax, Director of the SF Department of Public Health.
However this time, Chief U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg will not let the trade group amend it again. He wrote in his 9-page ruling that “none of IFF’s arguments are persuasive” and said IFF “selectively” and “misleadingly” quoted SF’s ordinance.
IFF argued, the ruling notes, that “the text of the Ordinance does not support the distinction between online sales and from out-of-town retailers and retailers located outside of San Francisco that maintain a physical presence” in the city.
However, the judge said that “the text, structure, and legislative history of the Fur Ban support the City’s practical decision to enforce it against both local retailers and national retailers who maintain a location.”
The ordinance states “it shall be unlawful to sell, offer to sell, display for sale, trade, give, donate, or otherwise distribute a Fur Product by any means in San Francisco,” according to the American Legal Publishing Corporation. Violations of this law will be $500 for first offense, $750 for a second, and “up to $1000 for each additional violation within one year of the date of a second or subsequent violation.”
In March 2018, SF became the first major city in the U.S. to ban fur sales, which was unanimously passed by the SF Board of Supervisors and signed by former Mayor Mark Farrell. It went into effect in January 2019.
Former Supervisor Katy Tang, who introduced the proposal, told the SF Examiner at the time that “more than 50 million animals are violently killed each year around the world to support the fashion industry” and said it is wrong “to allow this practice to continue.”
Prior to voting on the ban, IFF and the Fur Information Council of America sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors warning that, if passed, “would result in the loss of millions of dollars in tax revenues and jobs” and “the likely increase in retail vacancies in the city’s core,” according to the SF Examiner in March 2018. They said it would set a “dangerous precedent in opening the door for further actions against leather and wool, already the focus of active animal rights campaigns.”
Following SF’s ban, California became the first state in the nation to ban fur products in October 2019. Governor Gavin Newsom said in tweet on October 12, 2019 that the bill (AB 44) is “one of the strongest animal rights law in US History.”
It goes into effect in January 2023.