Federal Judge Dismisses Challenge to WeHo Fur Ban, Leaving State Lawsuit an Option

Mayfair-HouseA federal judge has dismissed a challenge to West Hollywood’s fur ban, leaving it up to Mayfair House, which filed the challenge, to decide whether to appeal his decision or continue to pursue the issue in state court.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge George H. King said that the city’s professed interest to “promote community awareness of animal welfare, foster the City’s goal to be a community that cares about animal welfare, and further the City’s reputation as Cruelty Free Zone for animals” by prohibiting fur sales was a “legitimate interest,” rejecting claims that the ban was a violation of the U.S. Constitution. King declined to rule on whether the federal court could address Mayfair’s contention that the fur ban violates state law.

In a press release, the Humane Society of the United States lauded the decision. “We applaud the court’s decision to uphold the city’s groundbreaking ordinance,” the Humane Society said. “The ruling makes clear that the Constitution does not prevent West Hollywood or any other city from using its lawmaking powers to protect animals by prohibiting the sale of cruelly produced products.”

However Joe Wilson of Kelley Drye and Warren, the lawyer representing Mayfair House, noted that his client still has the option of contesting the ban in state court or appealing King’s federal court decision.

The West Hollywood City Council in 2011 passed a law banning the sale of clothing made in whole or part of fur. That law took effect in September last year. The ban was promoted by John D’Amico, now the city’s mayor, who was running for election to the City Council. Among D’Amico’s supporters were Animal Alliance California and Ed Buck, a local fur ban advocate. The city became the first in the United States to ban fur apparel. West Hollywood also has banned the retail sale of cats and dogs, and it recognizes their human companions as “guardians” rather than owners. The city has banned “pet rentals,” cat de-clawing and, most recently, performances by exotic animals.

The fur sales ban has been especially controversial, with local businesses saying the city has no right to tell them what products they can or cannot sell. West Hollywood’s Design District, which encompasses Beverly and Robertson boulevards and Melrose Avenue, is a fashion hub with boutiques that historically have offered fur products for sale. A 2012 study commissioned by the city found that 16 of 27 businesses responding to a survey said the ordinance would have a negative impact on them.

Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Industry Council of America, said it is unclear what Mayfair House would do next. “We stand by, and I believe Mayfair House does as well, that this ordinance attempts to influence a person’s freedom of choice,” he said. “It stands as a pretty shining example of the waste and lack of leadership of the City Council.”

A spokesperson for Mayfair House said the city ordinance and Mayfair’s challenge to it has sparked threats of violence against the business and its employees. ” We’ve got people calling and threatening to burn us down, said the spokesperson, who asked not to be identified. “The FBI has to get involved. … They ruined our Facebook. They ruined our Yelp. It’s absolutely disgusting what they are doing.”

“There are 15 hardworking very dynamic young people working here. This has jeopardized jobs in this community.”

She said that in the case of Mayfair House the banned product is Ugg boots, which are made of sheepskin with fleece attached. While animal rights activists have said that animals are treated cruelly in the manufacture of Ugg boots, in fact the sheepskin is a byproduct of sheep who are killed for their meat.

She also said the city ordinance was unfair in banning the sale of fur apparel and not other products made from animal skin. “It just seems arbitrary to me that next door that you can buy a fur rug or spread for a sofa, but if you cut holes in it to wear it, it’s illegal,” she said. “We are all animal owners. We love animals. We only deal with reputable dealers (of animal products.”

Mayfair House, at 8844 Beverly Blvd. near North Clark, is owned by Johanna Judah, who describes the store as a “mini-Herrods.” In additional to home furnishings and accessories, it offers handbags, jewelry, watches and other items.

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arnaud (@Ethicsociety)

Fur farming has been banned in five europeans countries. Two other are considering to ban the sale of fur items.
The system will be better when it will protect animals like they deserve to be protected : sensitive creatures, capable to feel distress, emotions and pain.
We need to set limits to protect animals from people who do not think that caging animals in batery cages before skinning them is ok. That is why I applaud the federal judge decison.

arnaud (@Ethicsociety)

There are many things I do not understand in the comments I read. @Richard : please. Do you mean we should only get informations on the official websites of the industrials ? This is naive, unless you work for the fur industry… The industry has been spreading misleading facts and biaised inforations to protect the business for years. Informations form independent experts or NGO’s are necessary because they provide informations that are not controled by any industrials. Also I don’t see how fur can be branded as a “personnal choice”. it is not like chosing the color of your next… Read more »

Richard Swartz
6 years ago

Thank you for your response. I commend you for thinking and caring about the issues. Certainly education is a key component for one to make good personal decisions. Your response is exactly what I am saying. I respect what you have said, “we are talking about a frivolous thing.”. I hope you respect others who who not agree with your point of view. We have a good system for deciding what is a crime in this country. Buying and wearing furs is not one of them. I hope we can agree to disagree on this.

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
6 years ago

As a WeHo resident (and shopper) I support the fur ban. Sure there are many good arguments against it and it has plenty of holes but ultimately this is a principled stand for a more civilized and compassionate attitude towards our furry friends. I bet many other cities will follow. And we can afford to lose out on some revenue.

http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2014/05/08/fur-ban-in-west-hollywood-upheld-by-federal-court

Richard Swartz
6 years ago

People on both sides of this issue need to respect the other’s point of view. If you choose not to eat meat or wear furs it is your right. But the opposite is also true. Respect needs to go both ways. You have fought so hard for those very principles in West Hollywood. It is why two men or two women can walk down the street holding hands without worry. Tolerance and acceptance has allowed you what is not so easily granted elsewhere. Most often, it is ignorance that prevents this tolerance and acceptance. I urge West Hollywood City Council… Read more »

The Paw Report
6 years ago

“We are all animal owners. We love animals. We only deal with reputable dealers (of animal products.” LOL, Yeah. I anally electrocute and then skin the animals I love the most, too.

Hawthorne
Hawthorne
6 years ago

Fur aside, Mayfair has now invited investigation into its employment practices with its injudicious comment that its employees are “young.” Or are equal employment laws too much of a burden too?

Mark Stone
Mark Stone
6 years ago

Wait, so they aren’t banning fur? They are banning wearable fur… That makes perfect sense, because in the afterlife, the animals know if their fur is being worn, and if it’s not, they are ok with it. Take away my personal views, I can’t get behind a half hazard law like this…In my opinion, that’s like saying it’s illegal to run red lights, unless you are going southbound. It’s either illegal or it’s not…a red light is a red light, and fur is fur. I feel like listening to the logic behind those WEHO council members who wrote this law… Read more »

Camilla Jeffries
Camilla Jeffries
6 years ago

Blackfeather, you are right. This is not about fur! The store in question sells UGG slippers, not fur coats, but that’s besides the point. The concern is that this is a dangerous and arbitrary law regardless of how you feel about fur. It singles out apparel, and closes its eyes in allowance to the fur throws, rugs, and sofas glorifying the home design locations throughout WEHO. For goodness sake, if you want to make a point, why only apply the law to one type of business and not the other? Does that not seem a bit strange? Does the fact… Read more »

Blackfeather
Blackfeather
6 years ago

I dont think this is really about fur, or cruelty. Its about someone else telling me what I can or cannot wear, according to their own sensibilities. I see leather being banned next, then meat, then who knows…. All business will eventually leave WeHo over “minority rule”. You’re being treated as tools….

arnaud (@Ethicsociety)

Once again it shows that fur is sold in places where it is absolutley not necessary.
We do not need fur to keep warm in West Hollywood and you can have the look of fur with great alternatives like faux fur.
Fur can not be labeled as a personnal choice when it arms so many animals. Congratulation to West hollywood for the cruelty free policy 🙂

Woody McBreairty
6 years ago

Good news. Those who keep saying animal abuse for needless apparel should be a “matter of choice” are using a worn out argument & are spinning their wheels & will lose again. Many exotic animal skins are illegal to import in the U.S. as is elephant ivory & numerous live animals, all for good reason. To say that purchasing these animal products, many endangered, should be a matter of choice is a twisted perception of reality. That would mean that the ban of cat declawing, the retail sale of puppy mill dogs & the use & abuse of circus animals… Read more »