TIME States

Ohio Girl, 3, Shot By 4-Year-Old Brother

In critical condition after being shot in the head

Police say a 3-year-old Ohio girl is in critical condition after being shot in the head by her 4-year-old brother, who found a gun in a dresser.

The shooting occurred around 10 a.m. Sunday in Lorain, about 30 miles west of Cleveland. Police say the two children were playing alone in a bedroom when the boy found a loaded .40-caliber handgun.

A police report says the father of the 3-year-old girl was holding her in his arms when officers arrived. The report says the 4-year-old boy was crying and that he repeatedly told an officer he was sorry.

Lorain police Capt. Roger Watkins says the investigation will be turned over to the Lorain County prosecutor’s office to determine if criminal charges will be filed.

TIME 2014 Election

Where Marijuana Legalization Votes Are Happening Nov. 4

Medical Marijuana
Colin Brynn—Getty Images

A handful of states and cities will vote to loosen restrictions on the drug, setting the stage for bigger battles in 2016

Residents in Lewiston, Maine may have seen an unusual Halloween decoration this year: a mobile billboard, towed around town on the bed of a truck, featuring a face screaming in horror and, in spooky-squiggly script, the words “Marijuana: Less toxic! Less addictive! Less scary than alcohol!”

The ad is part of the campaign to legalize marijuana in the small New England city, one of a handful of places where measures easing restrictions on the drug are on the Nov. 4 ballot. In Alaska, volunteers are going door to door in below freezing weather. In Oregon, where voting is done by mail, legalization supporters are using a Facebook app to nudge their friends who haven’t put their ballots in the post. Legalization advocates see the mid-term votes as a chance to set the stage ahead of larger fights to legalize marijuana in 2016, where it may be on the ballot in California.

Here’s a rundown of the key votes on marijuana this year, which are all hovering in toss-up territory:

Alaska: Legalization with tax and regulation

Ballot Measure 2 would concretely legalize retail pot, giving the state the power to tax and regulate the substance like Colorado and Washington. Two recent polls show the electorate bending in opposite directions. One found that 57% of respondents support the measure, compared to 39% who oppose; another found that 53% of Alaskans would vote no on the measure, compared to 43% who said they would vote yes.

“It’s very much looking like a coin flip,” says Taylor Bickford, a spokesman for the campaign supporting legalization.

Oregon: Legalization with tax and regulation

Oregon has been down this road before. In 2012, state voters rejected a measure to legalize pot 56% to 44%. This year, more activists have been on the ground asking people to support the pro-legalization Measure 91, an effort funded partly by the deep-pocketed Drug Policy Alliance. The chances of passage here may be better than Alaska, but it’s still no lock: the most recent poll shows 46% of voters opposing the measure and 44% supporting it. The numbers have long hovered around 50%.

All the campaigns are hoping for young people—who are generally more supportive of legalization—to turn out, despite their habit of staying home in non-presidential election years. “The young and young at heart are going to be important for us to pass this measure,” says Brad Reed, a spokesman for the Yes on Measure 91 campaign. “What’s clear from all of the polls is that it’s going to be a very close race.”

Washington, D.C.: Semi-legalization

Initiative 71 falls short of creating a government-regulated, taxable pot market like the ballot measures in Alaska and Oregon. But it would push the nation’s capital into decidedly cannabis-friendly territory, allowing people to possess up to 2 oz. of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants at home without facing criminal or civil penalties. Polls have shown locals supporting the measure by nearly 2-to-1.

The question is not so much whether it will pass as whether it will stand. There remains a disconnect between the reaches of the local and federal governments in the District—the substance would remain illegal in the roughly one-fourth of D.C. on federal land—and Congress could choose to intervene, passing laws that supersede the actions of D.C. officials. Though Congress has held hearings about D.C.’s past pot-related decisions, like decriminalizing marijuana, passage of this measure may spur more than talk. Marijuana is, after all, still illegal under federal law.

Florida: Medical marijuana

Voters could make Florida the 24th state to allow medical marijuana. Despite the lack of history at stake, the campaign for Amendment 2 has drawn millions from big spenders on the left and right, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. It’s also an issue splitting the gubernatorial candidates in a very close race, with Democrat Charlie Crist in favor of legalization and Republican Rick Scott against it.

Because it’s a constitutional amendment, the measure requires a 60% supermajority to pass, which is a tall order. Surveys have been all over the place during the campaign, but a Tampa Bay Times poll conducted in mid-October showed 48% of people supporting legalization of medical marijuana, compared to 44% opposing.

Maine: Semi-legalization

In 2013, Maine’s largest city, Portland, legalized recreational marijuana. The vote essentially gave police the power not to prosecute anyone for possessing up to 2.5 oz. of weed, though the sale and purchase of marijuana remain illegal. And some police prosecuted people anyway, drawing on the authority of a state that still views the drug as verboten.

Following Portland’s lead, two other cities have measures loosening marijuana restrictions on Tuesday’s ballot. Residents in Lewiston, Maine’s second largest city, and South Portland, Maine’s fourth largest city, will vote on laws similar to the one Portland passed last year. It’s not exactly polling data, but David Boyer of the Marijuana Policy Project, a legalization advocacy group, says the driver of the Halloween billboard has been lousy with thumbs up. “It’s been creating a real buzz around town, if you will,” he says.

Read next: Republicans See Senate Majority Within Reach Day Before Elections

TIME 2014 Election

Mega-Donors Give Big in State Elections

Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner exits the polling place after voting in Winnetka, Ill.
Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner exits the polling place after voting in Winnetka, Ill., March 18, 2014. Andrew Nelles—AP

Donors gave millions in races for governor, especially when they were the ones running

At least 29 donors have given $1 million or more to state-level campaigns so far this election, with a dozen of the big givers made up of self-funding candidates, according to an analysis of campaign finance data.

The other big donors to state campaigns in the 2014 election include billionaires, corporate giants, unions and nonprofit political groups. Each donor has shelled out more than 19 times the country’s median household income.

According to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of state records collected by the nonpartisan National Institute on Money in State Politics, top donors include:

  • Illinois Republican candidate Bruce Rauner, who has given more than $14 million (* see below), mostly to fund his own campaign for governor;
  • Pennsylvania Democrat Tom Wolf, who has used $10 million of his own money in an attempt to unseat unpopular incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican;
  • The Republican Governors Association, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that has given at least $9.6 million to gubernatorial candidates in at least six states;
  • Arizona gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones, who gave more than $5.3 million, nearly all to fund her own campaign, only to lose in the Republican primary;
  • And Chicago-based hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who has given more than $4.7 million, mostly to Rauner in Illinois.

The analysis is preliminary — the totals will only go up as more contribution reports are filed in the states. In addition, the National Institute is still processing reports that have already come in. Less than 80 percent of those reports have been processed thus far this election cycle. Rauner (*) alone, for example, has given at least $12 million more for a total of $26 million, state records show.

Despite those limitations, the Center still identified at least 29 of these million-dollar donors who have given more than $84 million out of the more than $1 billion in the two-year, 2014 election cycle. The Center looked at reports processed by the National Institute through Oct. 29.

While the race for U.S. Senate has grabbed most of the national election headlines this year, much of the action is at the state level. Thirty-six governorships are on the ballot in addition to more than 200 other statewide races and thousands of statehouse contests.

And unlike at the federal level, some states allow unlimited contributions to candidates. In addition, several states also allow direct contributions from the treasuries of corporations and unions.

Seeding their own chances

Rauner, Wolf and Jones are just three of at least 12 candidates for state-level office who have poured at least $1 million into their own campaigns.

States can limit contributions to candidates, but there are no such limitations on how much a candidate can give to his or her own campaign. That gives wealthy individuals with political aspirations an advantage over less wealthy opponents, said Bill Rosenberg, a political science professor at Drexel University.

“If an individual wants to run for public office, and they can be self-financed and the parties view them as reasonable candidates,” Rosenberg said, “a lot of times the party will just step out of the way because they can take those financial resources and put them into other races.”

In the case of Rauner, his early contributions to his campaign may have helped him attract even more cash to his joint campaign with running mate Evelyn Sanguinetti, including at least $4.5 million from Griffin and $7 million from the Republican Governors Association.

“The millions reassured prospective donors that the Republican Party wasn’t going to have a flash in the pan here, that he was going to be in until the end, that he wasn’t going to get outspent,” said Brian Gaines, a political science professor at the University of Illinois.

Limitations on influence

But other donors who give directly to candidates often face strict limits.

In 21 states, corporations cannot give money to candidates’ campaigns, and 16 states ban unions from giving, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. (Unions and corporations can give through their political action committees, though contributions may be limited.)

Thirty-eight states cap the amount a person or group can give to a single candidate.

And until recently, donors in more than a dozen states were limited in how much money they could give overall in an election cycle. The U.S. Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits at the federal level in April, with its ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission. States such as Connecticut and Wisconsin have pledged to not enforce the limits in state elections this year.

It’s not yet clear how far-reaching the impact of the decision may be on this election. Still, the existing contribution limits largely shape the way money pours into elections.

The two states seeing the highest number of donations to candidates from the mega-donors so far are Texas, where individuals and political action committees can give candidates as much as they want, and Illinois, whose governor’s race allows unlimited contributions this cycle.

Six-figure donations are the norm in marquee races in Texas.

This cycle, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor, received at least $900,000 from Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons, who died in December 2013. Energy tycoon Kelcy Warren has given Abbott at least $450,000, while telecommunications executive Kenny Troutt along with his wife, Lisa, has given him at least $350,000.

Such large-scale giving does not carry a stigma in Texas of trying to buy access, according to Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston. Instead, he said, it is “simply par for the course” in the Lone Star State.

“Large donations have little to no political blowback,” Jones said.

Under Illinois rules, if a candidate for statewide office contributes more than $250,000 to his or her own campaign, or if an outside group spends that amount supporting a candidate in the race, caps for contributions to a single candidate are thrown out in that race.

At first Rauner, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, avoided giving his opponent the chance for limitless fundraising by injecting $249,000, just below the threshold, into his campaign in March 2013.

But before the end of that year, Rauner gave his campaign another $1 million, pulling the plug on caps in the race. By now, the Republican nominee has contributed more than $26 million of his own money to his campaign, according to Illinois campaign finance records.

Rauner’s campaign did not respond to the Center’s request for comment.

His self-funding also cleared the path for incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn and his running mate to accept more than $3.6 million from the Democratic Governors Association, more than $755,000 from Chicago media mogul Fred Eychaner and millions from unions, including more than $1.2 million from a branch of the Service Employees International Union.

Getting around the limits

Even in states with contribution restrictions, well-heeled donors have found ways to give generously — and legally — to the candidates they favor.

In Pennsylvania, for example, corporations and unions can’t give directly to candidates, but they can give unlimited amounts of money if they establish a political action committee in the organization’s name. That’s how the Pennsylvania State Education Association, a state teachers union, gave $500,000 to Wolf’s gubernatorial campaign.

In New York, wealthy individuals can donate through multiple limited liability corporations to dodge the state’s $60,800 per cycle contribution limit for such businesses. Real estate magnate Leonard Litwin, for example, has given at least $1 million to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo using this method, according to a recent report by the New York Public Interest Research Group. The original sources of such contributions, though, are not reflected in the National Institute on Money in State Politics’ data.

A representative for Litwin did not respond to requests for comment.

Sometimes the best way around the rules is to avoid them altogether by giving to independent groups instead of candidate campaigns. Thanks to the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and subsequent rulings, there is no limit to what a person, corporation or union can give to independently acting political organizations.

The tactic is widespread this election. Roughly a fifth of the television ads airing in state-level races this cycle were paid for by groups that operate independently from candidates’ official campaigns, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from media tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

But many donors this cycle have given directly to candidates and helped fund outside political efforts beyond state-level races.

Eychaner, for example, may not make a list of million-dollar donors to candidates for state-level office this election. He has so far given at least $755,000 to Quinn in Illinois. But he has also given about $8 million to federal super PACs this year, according to the Federal Election Commission. In 2012, he was the largest Democratic donor to independent spending groups, having given $14 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

A representative for Eychaner declined to comment.

On the other side, Griffin was one of the five largest donors to the Washington, D.C.-based Republican Governors Association in the first nine months of this year, according to the group’s latest tax filing.

A representative for Griffin declined to comment.

Why do they give?

For individual donors, there are several likely reasons why they may give to candidates’ campaigns, said Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt.

For some, political ideology is a motivating factor, Levitt said. For others, large contributions are a way for donors to thrust themselves into the public consciousness. Still others are looking to gain favor with the people who could end up regulating their business interests. Sometimes, it’s a combination of the three.

Though some corporations are ideologically motivated, most businesses’ political donations are effectively “bet hedging,” he said.

Cable television giant Comcast Corp. parceled out at least $1.2 million in donations to candidates for state-level office in 36 states, often with as little as $100 given to the campaign of a legislative candidate.

“We believe that it’s important to be involved in the political process,” said Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice. “There are probably thousands of bills and regulatory state actions every year that affect the company.”

Fitzmaurice said the company tends to give across party lines and mostly to incumbents.

The company gave to Democrats in 28 states, Republicans in 31 states and at least one independent in Alabama, the Center’s analysis shows.

Where the company directs its political donations could depend on factors such as whether an election could shift party control of a state legislature or whether a state is considering regulatory action, Fitzmaurice said.

“For a corporation, making a donation may well be laying a bed of good will for legislators or regulators down the line, either to prevent unfavorable legislation or to try and get favorable legislation,” Levitt said. “It’s not uncommon at all for legislators, at least, to do a mental check of whether they’ve received a contribution before they decide exactly how badly they want to schedule a particular meeting.”

Liz Essley Whyte contributed to this report.

TIME States

Missing Denver Broncos Fan Found Alive and Well

Paul Kitterman Denver Post—AP

Paul Kitterman was found Tuesday after he vanished during last week's Broncos game

A Denver Broncos fan who vanished at during last week’s game has been found about 90 miles away, police said Tuesday night. He was “unharmed” and no foul play is suspected.

Paul Kitterman, 53, was last seen leaving his seat at halftime as the Broncos played the San Diego Chargers on Thursday. His concerned family later filed a missing persons report. Denver police said Kitterman was found “unharmed” in Pueblo, Colorado.

NBC station KOAA reported that he was spotted wandering in a Kmart parking lot on Tuesday after police received a call from his ex-wife.

Read more from our partners at NBC News

TIME Disaster

Residents of Pahoa, Hawaii, Are Preparing to Flee a Frightening Lava Flow

The lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano is seen advancing across a pasture near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii
The lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano is seen advancing across a pasture between the Pahoa cemetery and Apa'a Street in this U.S. Geological Survey image taken near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii on Oct. 25, 2014. Reuters

Those living in the direct path of the molten mass have already begun to leave

Lava inched closer to homes in Pahoa, Hawaii, on Monday evening, spurring the evacuation of residents living in the direct path of the molten mass gushing from the Big Island’s most active volcano.

Authorities and Pahoa residents have been nervously watching the lava coming from the nearby volcano Kilauea for months, since a fresh flow started moving northeast toward the tiny town of 900 earlier this summer.

One official told TIME that locals were taking the necessary precautions in case widespread evacuations are ordered. Over the weekend, residents living in close proximity to the lava flow packed their possessions into trailers in preparation.

As of Monday evening, the lava flow was within 70 yards of the nearest home, according to a statement released by the County Civil Defense Agency.

“Residents in the flow path were placed on an evacuation advisory and notified of possible need for evacuation beginning last night,” read the report.

Local officials continued to fret over the possibility that the lava may eventually cut into nearby Highway 130. The road serves as the major transportation thoroughfare in and out of the town and is used by approximately 8,000 to 10,000 commuters a day. As a precaution, county authorities have opened two auxiliary roads in the area.

Earlier in the day, reports of small-scale looting in the remote community began to surface. “Crime is starting to pick up because a lot of people abandoned their houses. Two of my brother-in-laws’ houses got ripped off,” Matt Purvis, an owner of a local bakery, told CNN.

Late last week, Hawaii’s Governor Neil Abercrombie penned an official request for a presidential disaster declaration, which would provide the state with federal assistance to bolster local emergency services.

TIME Religion

Pastor Who Performed Gay Marriage Keeps Ordination

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — A Methodist pastor who was disciplined after he officiated at the wedding of his gay son will be allowed to remain an ordained minister.

The Judicial Council of the nation’s second-largest Protestant denomination ruled Monday that a Pennsylvania church jury was wrong to defrock Frank Schaefer last year after he would not promise never to perform another gay marriage.

The council ruled on technical grounds and did not express support for gay marriage in general.

Although the United Methodist Church has welcomed gay and lesbian members, the church’s Book of Discipline rejects sex outside of heterosexual marriage as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Since his church trial, Schaefer has become a gay rights activist who has galvanized other Methodists who support full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church.

TIME Guns

Nebraska School OKs ‘Tasteful’ Senior Portraits With Guns

The school board unanimously passed the rule

A rural Nebraska school district decided Monday to allow graduating high school seniors to pose with guns in their senior portraits, the Omaha World-Herald reports.

Broken Bow school board members voted 6-0 to approve the rule, which permits only the “tasteful and appropriate” display of firearms, and prohibits pointing the weapons at the camera or displaying a hunted animal in distress, according to the policy.

“The board, I believe, felt they wanted to give students who are involved in those kinds of things the opportunity to take a senior picture with their hobby, with their sport, just like anybody with any other hobby or sport,” superintendent Mark Sievering told the World-Herald.

Nebraska has no age minimum for hunting, although hunters below 12 must be supervised by a licensed hunter, according to state law. It is illegal under Nebraska law to possess a firearm on school grounds, unless the holder is in an exempt category, such as the police force.

The issue of having guns in or around schools has been especially salient after the Dec. 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, an event that prompted policymakers to question whether adequate gun safety laws were in place. Since that shooting, several organizations have argued that several gaps in gun laws still exist despite many states tightening background checks for firearm purchases. Yet Nebraska’s overall gun policies still lag behind other states, according to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, whose 2013 Gun Laws Scorecard gave the state a D.

[Omaha World-Herald]

TIME Natural Disasters

20 Million Set to Take Part in ‘Great ShakeOut’ Earthquake Drill

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate speaks during an event on earthquake preparedness Oct. 14, 2014 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.
Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Craig Fugate speaks during an event on earthquake preparedness Oct. 14, 2014 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Alex Wong—Getty Images

At 10:16 a.m on Thursday, millions of people around the world will practice the "drop, cover and hold on" moves

More than 20 million people around the world on Thursday are expected to take part in the Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills, an annual event that promotes earthquake readiness.

At 10:16 a.m. on Oct. 16, participants will practice the government-recommended “drop, cover and hold on” protocol, which involves getting on the ground, taking cover under a table or desk and holding on until the earthquake is over.

With 10.32 million people registered, California has the highest participation of any U.S. state or nation taking part. ShakeOut events are also happening inNew Zealand, Japan, Southern Italy and parts of Canada as well. More than 25 million people in total are participating in a ShakeOut event of some kind during 2014, according to the Great ShakeOut organization.

ShakeOuts started in California, where earthquakes are common, but soon spread to other states, and the drills are usually coordinated with local emergency services.

TIME 2014 Election

Bloomberg Helps Democratic Governors’ Group Close Gap on Republicans

Michael Bloomberg Decorated In  Paris
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg poses prior to be awarded with the Legion d'Honneur by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sept. 16, 2014 in Paris. Chesnot—Getty Images

GOP's top donors include 5-Hour Energy founder

A national Republican group devoted to helping elect GOP governors has outraised its Democratic counterpart by more than $20 million in the first nine months of this year, but reports filed Wednesday with the Internal Revenue Service show that the gap is narrowing.

Though the Republican Governors Association raised about $68 million through the end of September, the Democratic Governors Association has been catching up with a record haul of more than $45 million, fueled by labor unions and former New York City mayor, billionaire and political independent, Michael Bloomberg.

The groups were neck-and-neck in the most recent quarter, with the Democrats only a half-million shy of the Republican group, which counts energy companies and billionaires David Koch and Sheldon Adelson among its top donors.

Battling over 36 governorships up for election this year, the two Washington, D.C.,-based groups have used those donations to go head-to-head on the airwaves, contribute directly to candidates and fund other political groups.

They spend in their own names and through a network of subsidiaries, with names such as Right Direction on the Republican side and Jobs and Opportunity on the Democratic side.

On television alone, the groups and their state branches account for nearly one-third of all television spending by independent groups in state-level races.

The Republican group has used its fundraising edge to purchase an estimated $19.7 million in television ads in 16 states through Oct. 13, more than any other non-party group in the country, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of preliminary data from media tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG.

The Democratic Governors Association has been the second-leading independent group, buying an estimated $12.3 million worth of ads in five states.

The Republican spending spree has been backed by multimillion-dollar donations in 2014 from a who’s who of Republican political donors.

Industrialist Koch, casino magnate Adelson and the private equity firm of 5-Hour Energy founder Manoj Bhargava each contributed $2.5 million through the end of September to the Republican Governors Association.

Private equity head Mike Shannon and his wife, Mary Sue, along with hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin round out the group’s top five donors, at $2 million from the Shannons and $1.5 million from Griffin. Two energy companies, Devon Energy, at $900,000, and Duke Energy, at $775,000, are among the Republican group’s top 10 donors overall.

The top five donors to the Democratic group are all labor unions. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, has given $3.7 million to the Democratic governors’ group this year, while the country’s two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, and their related political groups, have been the second- and third-largest donors, giving $2.8 million and $2.5 million, respectively. The Service Employees International Union and United Commercial Workers International Union each has given more than $2 million.

The unions have helped narrow the gap between the two political groups, especially in the final months leading up to the election. In 2010, the last time this many governors faced election, the Republican group held a $32.5 million fundraising advantage through the same period.

The biggest individual donor to the Democratic Governors Association is Bloomberg, who gave $1.1 million in September. It appears to be the first time he has contributed to either organization.

Bloomberg, a Democrat turned Republican turned independent, has also contributed nearly $7 million to Independence USA PAC, a super PAC active at both the federal and state levels that supports centrist candidates.

But the super PAC’s spending appears to be at cross-purposes with Bloomberg’s support of the Democratic governors’ group.

So far, the Independence USA PAC has spent more than $750,000 on TV ads supporting Rick Snyder, Michigan’s incumbent Republican governor. Meanwhile, aided by Bloomberg’s donation, the Democratic Governors Association has spent $7.2 million on ads mostly critical of Snyder.

The governors’ groups are what are known as 527s, tax-exempt organizations named for the IRS code they fall under, which can accept unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations and unions.

Both groups, which have been in existence for more than a decade, got a boost from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which, in conjunction with related federal rulings, removed restrictions on political spending by corporations and unions, and forced 24 states to revise their campaign finance rules.

Overall, independent groups have accounted for more than 20 percent of the estimated $495.4 million in spending on state- level races so far. That represents an increase compared to 2010, in which non-candidate and non-party groups accounted for only 12 percent of the $921.3 million spent.

The Center for Public Integrity is tracking political advertising in races for the U.S. Senate and state-level offices. Use these two, interactive features — with new data every Thursday — to see who is calling the shots and where the money is being spent.

TIME Courts

The U.S. Supreme Court Upholds a California Ban on Foie Gras

Forbidden Foie Gras Goes Underground At California 'Duckeasies'
A worker performs "gavage," or force feeding, on ducks in the preparation of foie gras at Hudson Valley Farms in Ferndale, New York, U.S., on Sunday, July 15, 2012. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Haute diners in California will have to do without

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld California’s ban on foie gras, refusing to hear an appeal against the state’s kibosh on products made by “force feeding a bird for the purpose of enlarging the bird’s liver beyond a normal size,” Reuters reports.

Foie gras, French for “fatty liver,” is made by force-feeding corn to ducks and geese, a process that animal-rights activists have described as cruel and unethical. The birds’ unnaturally enlarged livers are then harvested for high-end dining.

A Los Angeles-based restaurant group, a foie gras producer in New York, and a group of foie gras farmers in Canada had challenged the ban, calling it a violation of federal protections barring states from interfering in interstate commerce, Reuters says.

The ban was passed in 2004 but went into effect in 2012, according to the Los Angeles Times.

[Reuters]

Read next: The Case Against Eating Ethically-Raised Meat

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