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White v. United States

Citation: 40 ELR 20118
No. No. 09-3158, (6th Cir., 04/09/2010)

The Sixth Circuit affirmed a lower court decision that dismissed plaintiffs’ pre-enforcement challenge to the anti-animal-fighting provisions of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) on the grounds that plaintiffs lacked standing. The court held that none of plaintiffs’ claimed injuries were sufficient to confer standing. First, plaintiffs’ alleged economic injuries due to restrictions on cockfighting are not traceable only to the AWA: cockfighting is banned to a greater or lesser degree in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. And while cockfighting remains legal in Puerto Rico and some U.S. territories, the complaint does not allege that plaintiffs have ever derived any income from or engaged in any trade with individuals in those locales. The bald assertion that plaintiffs have suffered economic injury due to the AWA is insufficient to confer standing based on the continued legality of cockfighting there. Second, the risk of prosecution under the AWA is too speculative to confer standing on plaintiffs. Plaintiffs’ decision to curtail their activities based on their subjective fear of prosecution—the alleged “chill” on their constitutional rights—does not affect this analysis. Third, none of the purported “constitutional” injuries actually implicates the Constitution and, as such, are insufficient to confer standing. Finally, even if the provisions at issue violated the principles of federalism contained in the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Amendments by favoring the policies of states that ban cockfighting in a manner that imposes burdens on those states that have not enacted such bans, plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge it. Any injury here is to the impacted states and perhaps to their citizens or to the citizens of the United States in general. Plaintiffs cannot be said to have personally suffered the alleged federalism violation in a manner that would confer standing.