Chicago, IL -- Recognizing the will of the people of Illinois and championing America's horses, a three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit today ruled unanimously to uphold a decision by the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, reaffirming the constitutionality of an Illinois law preventing the slaughter of horses for human consumption.
Immediately following passage of the new law in May, the state's sole horse slaughterhouse, Cavel International, filed suit in federal court to challenge the mandate's constitutionality. On July 5, the US District Court ruled the law constitutional and thus, enforceable. However, Cavel appealed that decision to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and horses continued to be slaughtered while the case was considered.
"We are overjoyed by the court's latest decision," said Tracy Silverman, General Counsel for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). "The state of Illinois did not want to be home to the nation's last remaining horse slaughter plant, and today's court ruling signals an end to this gruesome industry in the United States."
While this news is significant, Cavel still has two options remaining to challenge the ruling. It can request an en banc review, where if granted, all judges on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals would reconsider the decision rendered by the three-judge panel, or it can appeal directly to the Supreme Court of the United States. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court refused to hear a similar request by the two Texas horse slaughterhouses operating in violation of Texas law. Those plants have effectively ceased operations as a result.
"AWI calls on Cavel to stop stonewalling the inevitable by prolonging this cruelty via the courts," said AWI Deputy Legislative Director Chris Heyde. "Each day it drags out this process, hundreds of horses are caught in the middle, paying the ultimate price as a result."
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311), a federal bill to ban horse slaughter in the United States and the transport of horses abroad for the same purpose, is pending in the US Congress. Its enactment is now essential to ensure horses who would have been sent to Cavel are not exported for slaughter in Canada or Mexico.
"The American public has made clear its desire to close this industry down," Heyde said. "That's why AWI is proud to be leading the charge to pass the urgently needed federal law to ban horse slaughter."