President Donald J. Trump’s Justice Department is siding with California over 12 egg-producing states that don’t want egg standards dictated by Sacramento.

Noel J. Francisco, the solicitor general of the United States, has put the Department of Justice (DOJ) on California’s side in the dispute by filing an amicus brief in the case.

It’s not known if DOJ consulted with the Trump White House before filing the brief. It puts DOJ in support of state law that imposes “cage-free” housing standards on egg producers in other states if they want access to the California market.

The 12 egg-producing and mostly “red” states say the Supreme Court should strike down California’s egg law because the federal Egg Products Inspection Act pre-empts it and it violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The San Francisco-based Ninth District Court of Appeals in 2016 tossed a challenge by a smaller group of egg-producing states by denying them standing to bring the lawsuit. The appellate court distinguished a difference between the states and their egg producers in siding with California.

This time, the egg-producing states came armed with extensive economic analysis to show the state-by-state burden of California’s regulatory burden on egg production. But the solicitor general, who represents the Trump DOJ before the Supreme Court says the states still don’t have standing.

Francisco opposes a Supreme Court review of the latest 12-state challenge, suggesting the egg producers would have standing to sue on their own.

Led by Missouri, the 12-states claim California’s “cage-free” egg requirements have cost producers between $228 million to $912 million. And, they say the California egg rules have raised egg prices at the consumer level from 1.73 to 5.12 percent.

But in the amicus brief, the DOJ says those costs cannot be “persuasively” pinned entirely on the California egg regulations. And it opposes any review of the 12-state challenge by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the Supreme Court does not review the issues raised by the latest challenge, egg producers likely will pursue their goals without support from the states in lower courts.

Numerous major retailer and restaurant chains are promising to go with “cage-free” eggs by 2020.

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Photo of Dan Flynn Dan Flynn

Editor Dan Flynn is a Northern Colorado-based writer and editor with more more than 15 years of food safety experience. As a public affairs professional, he worked with government and regulatory agencies at the local, state, and federal levels. His career as a journalist included working for newspapers throughout the West, from the Black Hills to Seattle. His on-scene reporting on the collapse of the Idaho’s Teton Dam and the suicide bombing at Washington State University’s Perham Hall was carried by newspapers around the world and was recognized both times regionally by the Associated Press for Best Reporting on a Deadline. Most of the disasters he attends these days involve food illnesses.