West Hollywood’s Fur Ban Stands

The city of West Hollywood, Calif.’s municipal ban on sales of new fur items survived a court challenge. It remains the only city in America to ban the sale of new fur items.

The United States District Court for the Central District of California last week dismissed a suit that claimed West Hollywood’s ban violated the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution.

Chief Judge George H. King wrote in his opinion that prohibiting sales of new fur items was a “legitimate” step in the city’s mission to be a “cruelty-free zone for animals.” The city declared itself to be a cruelty-free zone in 1990 and banned use of animals in non-medical testing as well as holding animals in steel-jawed traps in city limits, according to media reports.

The federal court’s decision does not mark the end of the challenge, said Larry Lasoff, an attorney for Mayfair House, the West Hollywood retailer that submitted the challenge. He said that the court’s dismissal does not constitute a validation of the ban.

“We are considering all legal options, including moving Mayfair’s state claims to the California courts,” Lasoff said. “As you know, the federal court did not assert jurisdiction over those claims but indicated that they could be reasserted in the state courts.”

Mayfair House sells popular Uggs-brand footwear and shearling products. Johanna Judah, Mayfair’s owner, said that the ban needs to be overturned. “This ban violates the very core values of freedom of choice for us and our customers that drew us to West Hollywood,” she said in a September 2013 statement when her suit was filed.

When the fur ban was passed last year, the law’s enforcement was going to be entrusted to West Hollywood’s Code Compliance Department. If code-compliance officers found a retailer was selling new fur items, the retailer could be given a citation. If a retailer builds a record of three tickets in a calendar year, the store owner could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Mayfair House received a citation, Lasoff said. “[We] have requested a hearing in connection with that citation,” he said.