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An attempt by the world’s second-largest shoemaker to overturn a 36-year-old state law forbidding the importation or sale of kangaroo leather got bounced out of the California Supreme Court on Monday. But Adidas � which wants the hides to make sneakers � might still get its way in the state Legislature, where a bill to overturn the animal-friendly state law appears to be bounding toward approval. “The Legislature now steps in and does its job,” Rocky Rushing, chief of staff for state Sen. Ron Calderon, the Montebello Democrat who introduced the bill for Adidas, said Monday. “And, hopefully, passes a law that lifts that ban so local retailers can be on equal footing � no pun intended � with out-of-state retail outlets.” He said Calderon is “fairly confident” the legislation � Senate Bill 880 � will pass when the Legislature reconvenes in late August. It already has been approved by the Senate and is now before the Assembly. Monday’s unanimous ruling (.pdf), written by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, rejected an argument by Adidas Promotional Retail Operations Inc. and two other shoe companies that state Penal Code �653o � which prohibits the commercial importation of 24 kinds of animal carcasses � is pre-empted by the federal Endangered Species Act. The federal law doesn’t list the red kangaroo, eastern grey kangaroo or western grey kangaroo � the three species the companies were importing � as protected animals. The rights group Viva! International Voice for Animals and an individual, Jerold Friedman of Los Angeles, filed the underlying unfair business practices suit against Santa Monica-based Adidas Promotional Retail Operations, Sport Chalet of La Canada and Folsom-based Offside Soccer. They accused the three companies of violating �653o. The companies got a summary judgment in San Francisco Superior Court, with the court agreeing that the state law is pre-empted. San Francisco’s First District Court of Appeal affirmed (.pdf), saying �653o contradicted a portion of the Endangered Species Act that allows the importation of the three species in question as a reward for Australia’s implementation of programs aimed at properly managing its kangaroo population. In reversing the appeal court, Justice Werdegar noted that while the red, eastern grey and western grey kangaroos once were on the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife’s list of endangered or threatened species, they aren’t now. The three � with a population the Australian government estimates at slightly under 25 million � were taken off in 1995 when it was determined they were no longer in danger of extinction. “Delisting brought to an end federal regulation,” Werdegar wrote. “There is no current federal concern.” That, she added, “leaves the field open for states to act as they individually see fit.” Werdegar noted that if this case had come before the court 20 years ago, the outcome could have been the opposite. But, she said, the situation of the kangaroos at issue has changed considerably. “Species management plans have been adopted,” she wrote. “The three species have recovered; the special rule allowing imports has been rescinded; the species are no longer the subject of ongoing federal regulation; and the government of the commonwealth of Australia professes to have � an independent, strong, ongoing interest in species conservation and in preservation of a national symbol.” The court sent the case back to the First District to resolve any remaining claims. Martin Fineman, a partner in Davis Wright Tremaine’s San Francisco office who represented the shoe companies, didn’t return a telephone call seeking comment. Orly Degani, an of counsel in Los Angeles’ Eisenberg Raizman Thurston & Wong who represented the plaintiffs, said she was pleased the court clarified the issues “in a way that properly preserves state power and permits states to conserve species that are not otherwise protected by federal law.” Degani also said she hopes the ruling will help kill Calderon’s bill, “which we believe is completely motivated by the economic self interests of the companies that are selling kangaroo products in violation of the law.” The ruling is Viva! International Voice for Animals v. Adidas Promotional Retail Operations Inc., 07 C.D.O.S. 8633.

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