Bees are fishI rarely blog about material from overseas, but I couldn’t resist when I came across the decision of the Supreme Court of California in  Almond Alliance of California v. Fish & Game Commission, No. S275412, (Cal. Sep. 21, 2022). This decision was the refusal of an application to review (must be something like “special leave”) a Court of Appeals decision. The Court noted:

These kinds of seemingly illogical outcomes can in fact best capture the enacting legislature’s intent in a variety of circumstances. A statute may be construed in a manner that goes beyond the literal meaning of its text to avoid an absurd result the legislature could not possibly have contemplated….

Even if the Court of Appeal arrived at what might superficially seem like a counterintuitive result, that alone does not establish that it erred…..

So, what was this decision of the Court of Appeals all about? Well:

  1. The California Endangered Species Act protects any native “bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant” that is at risk of extinction (section 2062);
  2. “Fish” is defined in section 45 of the California Fish and Game Code as “a wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals”; and
  3. Therefore, the application to include four species of native (terrestrial invertebrate) bumblebees on the endangered species list should have been allowed because for the purpose of the legislation “bees are fish”.

There is a short article about this case in the December 2022 issue of Trends (one of the American Bar Association publications).

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.

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