The Left’s Beef With Beef

By Betsy McCaughey Published on March 7, 2024

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has a beef with beef.

This week James sued the JBS USA Food Company, the U.S. subsidiary of the world’s largest beef producer, accusing it of “fraudulent and illegal business activities” and demanding “disgorgement of all profits and ill-gotten gains.”

Disregard the inflammatory language. James’s lawsuit is frivolous — a mere publicity stunt. She is using the state’s legal apparatus to punish individuals and industries unpopular with the Left — sacrificing the rule of law in the process.

If she can make the Empire State unlivable for beef producers, she can do the same to any other industry. Her politically motivated legal attacks will scare companies away from New York. Your business or job could be next.

Already, James has used the powers of her office to go after Donald Trump and the National Rifle Association. Now she’s targeting a beef producer. What’s next? Furriers, car dealerships, Big Pharma, pro-life groups, friends of Israel, companies that donate to Republicans?

Drilling Down on Letitia James’ Goal

Most of James’s 38-page legal complaint is a rant against beef, not JBS specifically. “Beef has the highest total greenhouse gas emissions of any major food commodity,” she writes, “and beef production is linked to large-scale deforestation, especially in the Amazon rainforest.”

New York is a long way from the Brazilian rainforests or even JBS’s U.S. operations in Colorado. So how does she justify a New York lawsuit? She accuses JBS of fraud for telling New York consumers that the company aspires to be “Net Zero by 2040.”

It’s up to the legal community to stand up to James and demand the impartial, apolitical administration of justice. Without it, New York’s economy cannot survive.

The fraud charge is ridiculous. Labeling chuck steak as filet mignon would be fraud because it would misrepresent the product being sold. But saying you aspire to be net zero 20 years from now is not fraud.

Half the world’s 2,000 largest publicly listed corporations state that they aspire to be net zero by 2040, but very few have concrete plans on how to get there, according to Net Zero Tracker. The technology hasn’t been developed to do it affordably. An aspiration is not a legal commitment.

The complaint makes clear that James’s goal isn’t to get JBS to refine its advertising. She wants to put beef producers out of business.

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Citing a United Nations report, James argues that reducing emissions “cannot be eliminated through existing or anticipated technology. Instead, scientists point to the need to reduce production of and demand for ruminant meat, including beef.”

James complains that “the JBS group plans to do the opposite. The JBS Group forecasts increased demand for its products over the coming decades, and it intends to meet that demand.”

Targeting the Politically Disfavored for Extinction

So what is JBS’s crime? Growing, instead of caving to the Left and closing down.

James’s lawsuit is a warning to businesses not to expect impartial justice. She’s targeting the politically disfavored for extinction. It will mean publicity for her but millions of dollars in defense costs for her victims.

Where is the New York State Bar Association, which pledges to uphold the integrity of our legal system and discipline lawyers who bring frivolous lawsuits? Rule 3.1 of the NYSBA Code of Conduct defines a frivolous lawsuit as one having “no reasonable purpose except to harass or maliciously injure.” That’s the JBS lawsuit to a tee. Shame on the NYSBA for lacking the spine to denounce it.

Stand Up for the Empire State

Since 2019, hundreds of businesses, including major financial institutions, have fled New York because of high taxes, regulations, and crime. James’s legal vendettas will turn the business community’s exodus into a stampede.

Meanwhile, the city is suffering a surge in pedestrian assaults, subways attacks and retail theft. Instead of suing JBS, James should be calling for the repeal of the state’s insane bail “reform” and the removal of pro-criminal district attorneys like Alvin Bragg.

Can James be removed from office? Technically, yes — by a two-thirds vote of the state Senate, on the recommendation of the governor. But in New York’s one-party rule, that won’t happen.

It’s up to the legal community to stand up to James and demand the impartial, apolitical administration of justice. Without it, New York’s economy cannot survive.

New York has produced legal greats like Benjamin Cardozo and Thurgood Marshall. Don’t let James trash the rule of law here and turn the Empire State into a banana republic.

 

Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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