New York City Flikr.jpg
The 2014 New York law makes it illegal to sell, purchase, trade, barter, or otherwise distribute elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn within the state. Image: Manhattan, New York City by Jorge Lascar via Flikr.

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The lawsuit, a long-running case mounted by the Art and Antique Dealers League of America and the National Art and Antiques Dealers Association of America, has been allowed to proceed on the grounds that the ban unconstitutionally restricts ‘commercial speech’.

State and federal law conflict

The main thrust of the dealers’s challenge to the New York ban was that the 2014 state (ie local) law is more severe than federal (ie national) law, dating from 2016, which gives exemptions for the trade in antique ivory.

The conflict between New York state law and federal legislation means a New York dealer cannot sell an antique ivory object to a fellow New Yorker, but can market to buyers from outside the state.

However, Bloomberg reports that US District Court judge Lorna G Schofield yesterday (August 14) dismissed the state-federal conflict challenge, but allowed the lawsuit to go ahead on the basis that the New York law prohibits dealers from any display of antique ivory.

The two dealer trade bodies lodged the lawsuit in a New York court on April 5.

At the time, Alan Sash of law firm McLaughlin & Stern, which is acting for the associations, said in a statement sent to ATG:

“This lawsuit is to preserve and protect the lawful trade of antique ivory (defined as over 100 years old) in New York. To be very clear, we are opposed to current hunting and disapprove of ivory trophies. This lawsuit is about preserving the trade of antique ivory.”

UK legal challenge

The US news comes as a group of UK collectors and dealers prepare for a judicial review of the UK’s Ivory Act 2018, which would usher in a near-total ban on trade in antique ivory objects. The High Court review is set to be heard in the Autumn.