Let Them Eat Foie Gras


Atlantic Legal is acting of counsel in Illinois Restaurant Association v. City of Chicago, a first chair case in federal court in Chicago.

This is a challenge to an ordinance adopted by the City of Chicago as a home rule measure prohibiting restaurants in Chicago from serving foie gras, the delicacy of French origin. The rationale for the ordinance was that the production of foie gras involves forced feeding of geese and ducks, that the forced feeding is harmful to the fowl and is unethical, and that the ordinance was designed to protect or enhance the reputation of Chicago. The City did not base its ordinance on the health and welfare grounds which are customarily invoked as the basis for exercise of police power.

The Illinois Restaurant Association and a restaurant in Chicago brought suit to enjoin enforcement of the local law on the grounds that it does not come within the citys home rule powers. An amended complaint added a claim that the ordinance violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution because it impermissibly interferes with interstate and foreign commerce. Chicago removed the case to federal court and again moved to dismiss the amended complaint.

The Foundation believes the case involves very important constitutional law and public policy issues whether under the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Clauses of the Constitution a state or locality can ban the distribution and sale of lawfully produced goods simply because the local legislature has moral objections to some aspect of the production or use of the item and that this is a case that could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Atlantic Legal is serving of counsel to the Chicago law firm, Reed Smith Sachnoff & Weaver, representing the Illinois Restaurant Association as plaintiff.

Note: In August 2007, Atlantic Legal assumed the lead counsel role in this first chair case.