Operators of shuttered horse slaughter plant to appeal
Operators of a horse-slaughtering plant in DeKalb plan to seek a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court on an Illinois law that forced the plant to shut down this fall, an attorney for the company said Tuesday.
The court this month granted Cavel International Inc. an extension, to Jan. 18, of a deadline for filing the request.
“We are planning to file a petition (for a hearing) … but we’re at the very front end of that process,” said J. Philip Calabrese, the Cleveland attorney who represents Cavel International.
The shutdown in September of the DeKalb Cavel plant, the nation’s last horse-slaughtering plant, ended an operation that at one point slaughtered 40,000 to 60,000 horses a year. The horsemeat was sold primarily for human consumption in overseas markets.
A series of lower-court decisions upheld a law signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich in May that effectively ended the operation by banning the import, export, possession and slaughter of horses for human consumption in Illinois.
Cavel, which is based in Belgium, challenged the Illinois ban on constitutional grounds, claiming the law violated interstate and foreign commerce rules because the meat is shipped overseas. The plant had been in operation for about 20 years and had 60 employees.
The plant reopened for a time during the summer while court challenges were heard, but closed in late September, after the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Illinois law was similar to state bans on bullfights and cockfights meant to protect animal welfare.
Calabrese said the petition to the Supreme Court would simply ask justices to accept the case. The actual appeal could take several more months.
The deputy director of government and legal affairs for the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C. said the organization is confident the Supreme Court will turn down the hearing request, based on a similar decision in a Texas case of two horse slaughterhouses that were shut down early this year.
“We think they’re certainly not going to hear this one, especially when you’ve already had this decision in Texas,” said Chris Heyde
The issue of what becomes of horses once destined for the plant arose this month when the Illinois Farm Bureau annual convention approved a resolution calling for development of a not-for-profit foundation to care for abandoned and unwanted horses.
The Farm Bureau opposed the slaughter ban.
Tim Landis can be reached at (217) 788-1536 or firstname.lastname@example.org.