MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced on Thursday that his office joined a lawsuit to stop California from imposing standards requiring that eggs be sold only from chickens living in larger cages.

Strange joined the attorneys general of Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma and the governor of Iowa in the lawsuit. The suit seeks to declare California's law invalid and to stop its enforcement.

In 2008, voters in California passed a proposition requiring that its own egg producers provide either larger cages or free ranges for hens. Concerns that the law would put California's egg producers at an economic disadvantage compared to other states prompted provisions to extend the mandate to eggs imported from other states to be sold in California.

"In Alabama, consumers are free to make their own choice of which eggs to buy at their grocery stores, and it is preposterous and quite simply wrong for California to tell Alabama how we must produce eggs," Strange said. "This is not an animal-welfare issue; it is about California's attempt to protect its economy from its own job-killing laws by extending those laws to everyone else in the country."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Alabama is one of the top 15 largest egg producers in the U.S. with 2.139 million eggs produced in 2012. Many of the eggs are sold in other states, including California.

"The citizens of California made a choice for their own state, and when they realized it would harm their egg producers, they made an unconstitutional decision to spread the damage to other states," Strange said. "If California can get away with this, it won't be long before the environmentalists in California tell us how we must build cars, grow crops, and raise cattle too."

The lawsuit alleges California's law is a violation of the Supremacy and Commerce clauses of the U.S. Constitution and the Federal Egg Products Inspection Act.

The law is set to go into effect in California on January 1.

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