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H.J. Justin & Sons v. Brown

Citation: 12 ELR 20179
No. No. Civ. S-80-941 RAR, 519 F. Supp. 1383/(E.D. Cal., 08/19/1981)

The court holds that the State of California's ban on the importation and sale of products made from endangered species is constitutional and is not preempted by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Initially, the court rejects plaintiff's contention that § 6 of the ESA allows state regulation of trade in indigenous species only, finding that § 6 expressly permits state regulation of trade in non-indigenous species so long as the state neither relaxes the requirements of federal law nor contravenes the terms of a federal permit or exemption. In addition, the court finds that a congressional intent not to preempt a law such as that of California is clearly shown by the ESA's legislative history and that there is no inherent conflict between the ESA and the California law. Next, the court rejects plaintiff's contention that the California law is preempted by the CITES, observing that the Convention is not self-executing and that the ESA is the implementing legislation.Although the applicant has a federal permit for the interstate sale of the African elephant, the court holds that the permit does not allow the sale of elephant products in California since the language of the permit indicates that it is void where prohibited by state law. Finally, the court finds that the California law is not an impermissible burden on interstate commerce since the ESA's legislative history demonstrates congressional approval of the challenged California statutes.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Donald M. Pach
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 280, Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 446-1438

John B. McAdams
Kelly, Appleman, Hart & Hallman
3002 Ft. Worth Nat'l Bank Bldg., Ft. Worth TX 76102
(817) 335-7331

Counsel for Defendant
Joel S. Moskowitz, Deputy Attorney General
555 Capitol Mall, Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 445-9555