Court upholds Wisconsin’s irrational butter grading law

February 05, 2018 | By JOSHUA THOMPSON

We received some unfortunate news today from the federal court in Wisconsin. The court ruled against Minerva Dairy’s claims that the Wisconsin butter grading law violates the Constitution. In this case, Wisconsin adopted a law that even the government’s own experts fail to understand. A butter grade provides the consumer with essentially no information, is required by no other state in the nation, but significantly hampers an artisanal butter maker’s ability to sell its product. As I explained previously, “[t]he government might just as well place a Sesame Street sticker on the butter packaging—it would reveal just as much information.”

The court disposed of our Fourteenth Amendment claims by stating that the law is a “rational” way of protecting consumers. We all know the problems with the rational basis test, but this law is so ridiculous and nonsensical that we do not believe it meets even that low bar. With respect to our Commerce Clause claim, the Court ruled that to state a valid Commerce Clause claim under Pike, a plaintiff must show that the law specifically discriminates against out-of-state commerce. Needless to say, we will be appealing the ruling.

Minerva Dairy will fight on. Today’s decision is disappointing, but it’s not the final say. In the meantime, buy some Minerva Dairy butter. Take it from me, a former Wisconsinite, it’s delicious.