US District Court Judge Frederick Kapala rendered the decision on Thursday against Cavel International, the last remaining horse slaughter plant in the US.
On May 25, 2007, Cavel had filed suit in federal court challenging the enforceability of Illinois' law banning horse slaughter. In early June, Judge Kapala granted Cavel a temporary restraining order, preventing the state from prosecuting the slaughterhouse under the law. He subsequently extended that protection for 10 business days but then denied any further injunctive relief to Cavel on June 25, 2007. Judge Kapala did not believe he had jurisdiction to make any further determinations on the merits of this case due to an appeal pending in the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. However, on July 3rd, the 7th Circuit ordered Judge Kapala to proceed on Cavel's request for further injunctive relief and with a final decision on the merits of the case.
Judge Kapala analyzed Cavel's arguments that the Illinois state law is preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, a violation of the Commerce Clause, and a violation of the state's police power. In rendering his decision against Cavel he found that the slaughterhouse "failed to demonstrate any constitutional infirmity" in the state law.
"We are very pleased to have a federal court ruling that upholds the constitutionality of Illinois' state law banning horse slaughter," said Tracy Silverman, an attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). "This decision is one more important victory on the road to banning horse slaughter in America once and for all."
Attorneys for Cavel International may appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals. However, the ruling means that the doors remain shut on the slaughter plant, sparing the lives of thousands of America's horses.
AWI is being represented in this matter by the nationally renowned law firm of Patton Boggs.
The Animal Welfare Institute, founded in 1951, is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the sum total of pain and fear inflicted on animals by humans. AWI's legislative division, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation (SAPL), is leading the national campaign to end horse slaughter and advocating passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.