Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Zanonia White v. United States of America

Apr 9: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, Case No. 09-3158, appealed from the Southern District of Ohio at Columbus. Plaintiffs-Appellants appealed the district court's dismissal of their pre-enforcement challenge to the anti-animal-fighting provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), naming as defendants the United States, the Secretary and Department of Agriculture, the Attorney General and Department of Justice, and the Postmaster General and the United States Postal Service. The plaintiffs-appellants allege that these provisions are unconstitutional insofar as they "constitute a bill of attainder; violate the principles of federalism contained in, inter alia, the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Amendments to the United States Constitution; and unduly impinge on the plaintiffs-appellants' First Amendment right of association, constitutional right to travel, and Fifth Amendment right to due process for deprivations of property and liberty.
    The district court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of Article III standing, a decision that the Appeals Court affirmed. The targeted provisions of the AWA are contained in § 2156, which places restrictions on cockfighting and other "animal fighting ventures,"
defined as "any event, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, that involves a fight conducted or to be conducted between at least 3 animals for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment."
    The Appeals Court explained and concludes that "By prohibiting the sale and transportation of chickens for fighting purposes, the AWA violates (or so the complaint argues) the plaintiffs' rights of travel and association, their 'rights to due process in the deprivation of their rights to property and liberty,' and their 'right to be free from bills of attainder' . . . In other words, the plaintiffs are correct that they need not actually violate the AWA in order to have standing. However, they still must demonstrate an injury-in-fact to a legally protected interest that is actual or imminent and that satisfies the other prongs of the constitutional standing test. The purported constitutional violations the plaintiffs allege do not satisfy this standard. . ."
    Access the complete opinion (click here).

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