Court Dismisses Challenge to S.F Fur Ban

A federal judge has thrown out a challenge to the City of San Francisco’s fur ban. The ban was unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 2018 and went into effect Jan. 1. The fur-ban movement has grown, and in December 2019 California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law banning the sale of fur products in the State of California.

American representatives for the International Fur Federation, headquartered in London, challenged San Francisco’s fur ban with a lawsuit earlier this year. It argued that the ban violated commerce clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Judge Richard Seeborg of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, headquartered in San Francisco, ruled July 16 that the IFF had failed to present a valid theory for why the San Francisco ban was unconstitutional. The challenge was dismissed because it was unable to meet a “substantial burden” test, which is required to demonstrate a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s “dormant commerce clause,” said Bruce Wagman, an attorney with the law firm of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancilia, which defended the ban. Wagman leads the firm’s animal-protection-law department.

A statement from the IFF said that the court granted the IFF 21 days to file an amended complaint that would demonstrate that retailers are carrying an onerous burden from this ban.

Mike Brown, the IFF’s chief executive officer for the Americas, still claimed a victory for his advocacy group and the fur retailers it represents. Despite the ban, online retailers who do not have a presence in the city are legally allowed to deliver fur products to San Francisco residents. The City of San Francisco said it would not enforce the ban against online retailers. If it decides to do so, it would provide notice.

“Consumers in San Francisco can again shop for their favorite fur products online, which is where the majority of fur products are being sold today,” he said.