(CN) – Game-fowl breeders lost their constitutional challenge to a federal law banning activities associated with cockfighting. The 6th Circuit said the plaintiffs’ alleged fear of false prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act was “too speculative to confer standing.”
The ruling upholds a district court’s finding that any alleged injuries were “conjectural at best.”
Three breeders, a feed store owner and the president of the American Game Fowl Society argued that the law chills their “right to travel with chickens” and to associate with the game-fowl crowd, according to the ruling.
The law prohibits people from knowingly transporting live birds across state lines for “fighting purposes.” They also can’t knowingly buy, sell, deliver or receive any animals slated for a “fighting venture.”
But the federal law does not actually ban animal fighting, including cockfighting, though all 50 states and the District of Columbia ban cockfighting. Cockfighting remains legal in Puerto Rico and some U.S. territories.
Judge Ransey Guy Cole said the plaintiffs failed to show economic injury, because state bans on cockfighting “would remain in place notwithstanding any action we might take in regard to the AWA.”
The government’s concession that cockfighting is still legal in Puerto Rico “does not aid the plaintiffs,” Cole said, because they never claimed to have made money or traded with anyone in Puerto Rico.
The court called the risk of false prosecution under the AWA “too speculative to confer standing.”