USA -(AmmoLand.com)- The Ivory Education Institute asked a Superior Court judge at a hearing on June 3 to accept for trial a challenge to California’s new law that bans the sale of practically all privately owned ivory objects.
“We believe the case is not only ready for judicial review but that the law on its face is unconstitutional,” said Godfrey Harris, managing director of the Institute, a nonprofit organization that advocates for a better understanding of the artistic, historic, cultural and practical uses of ivory.
Assembly Bill 96 went into effect Jan. 1 and the IEI sued the State of California almost immediately. Soon thereafter, five animal welfare groups that were instrumental in having the new law written and passed joined with the State of California in defense of the lawsuit.
“However well-intentioned its supporters may be, the fact is that this ban will do nothing to save elephants in Africa from poachers,” Harris said. “There are no wild elephants in California, and no narwhals or walruses swimming in our waters. The gray whales offshore have no teeth, just baleen filters.”
“The proper place to address the poaching problem is in Africa via the federal government,” he added. “We cannot stop the criminal poaching of African elephants by penalizing Californians for selling an ivory chess set inherited from their grandparents.”
The Institute’s lawsuit challenges the ban (California Fish and Game Code § 2022) on several grounds. It claims that only the federal government has authority to regulate trade in ivory, as demonstrated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a treaty that went into force in 1975, and several laws since passed by Congress such as the African Elephant Conservation Act.
The lawsuit also claims that the state ban constitutes the unconstitutional taking of private property. By forbidding the sale of ivory objects, existing private collections are in effect rendered worthless, regardless of the age of the pieces or the provenance of the ivory.
The Institute is represented by the Los Angeles law firm Rogers & Harris. Senior partner Michael Harris is the lead attorney in this matter.