SCOTUS Refuses to Hear R-CALF’s Checkoff Appeal
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a petition by R-CALF USA for consideration of its legal challenge of the Beef Checkoff, effectively ending the case that began six years ago. R-CALF filed a lawsuit against the Montana Beef Council in 2016 alleging that checkoff dollars funded “private speech” rather than “government speech.” The suit was later expanded to include 14 other state beef councils.
In a statement issued late on Monday, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the High Court’s ruling “ends yet another R-CALF attack on the Beef Checkoff and prevents the activist attorneys at Public Justice” from further diverting Checkoff and beef industry resources.
“For too long we have allowed R-CALF and their attorneys to divide our industry and draw attention away from the important job of beef promotion and research,” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall. “The Supreme Court’s rejection of R-CALF’s petition confirms the Beef Checkoff, and its overseers, are adhering to the letter and spirit of the laws that protect and guide producer investments in the program.” said NCBA CEO Colin Woodall.
R-CALF filed a lawsuit against the Montana Beef Council in 2018 alleging that checkoff dollars funded “private speech” rather than “government speech.” The suit was later expanded to include 14 other state beef councils.
The Montana case was dismissed in January 2020 when the U.S. District Court of Montana ruled in favor of USDA and the Montana Beef Council in the matter of R-CALF vs. Sonny Perdue and USDA.
That would have ended a three-year legal battle that involved the 15 state beef councils, until R-CALF announced it would appeal the decision.
R-CALF USA, through attorneys at Public Justice, filed a new legal challenge over amendments USDA made to the operation of the federal Beef Checkoff program in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in September 2020. In that suit, R-CALF USA had argued that the government’s Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the state beef councils did not cure constitutional violations in the Beef Checkoff program. The 9th District Court of Appeals rejected that argument and R-CALF then sought a different outcome through an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
NCBA intervened in the lawsuit in its early days to help defend state beef councils from R-CALF and their activist attorneys, who falsely attacked state beef councils and the cattlemen and women who volunteer their time to support the industry as Checkoff leaders. Multiple court decisions rejected these allegations and reaffirmed the work and direction of the Beef Checkoff and those who guide it.
“R-CALF has repeatedly attacked the Beef Checkoff, engaging lawyers who are closely aligned with extremist animal rights groups like PETA and others, in an attempt to further their efforts,” said Woodall. “It’s time that our industry stands up to R-CALF and insists that they end these attacks on the Beef Checkoff and the volunteer cattle producers who direct it.”
R-CALF Files New Checkoff Lawsuit