Court vacates COOL lawsuit

Full court will rehear case in May over ruling given March 28.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated a ruling provided March 28 that vacated a request for a preliminary injunction to block the implementation of the updated country-of-origin labeling law that USDA updated in May 2013.

The court will hear oral arguments before the full court at 9:30 am on Monday, May 19. The parties and amici parties must refile briefs initially filed in the case by April 18 and can file simultaneous supplemental brief by April 21.

The follow-up briefs are 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 be required.

American Meat Institute senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp said the ruling signals that some of the members of the court may share AMIS’s concerns about the March 28 ruling.

“We remain hopeful that consideration of the case by the full Court will lead to an injunction against the protectionistic and costly country of origin labeling rule that is hurting livestock producers and meat companies while offering little benefit to consumers,” Dopp said.

In the complaint, AMI and their co-plaintiffs explained that the final rule violates the United States Constitution by compelling speech in the form of costly and detailed labels on meat products that do not directly advance a government interest.  They also explained that the 2013 regulation exceeds the scope of the statutory mandate, “because the statute does not permit the kind of detailed and onerous labeling requirements the final rule puts in place, and that the rule is arbitrary and capricious, because it imposes vast burdens on the industry with little to no countervailing benefit.”

View the court order here.

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