8/26/05 Ruling prevents closing of horse plants
U.S. District Judge Terry Means ruled Thursday that the law had been essentially repealed by subsequent state laws and, even if it had not been, federal laws pre-empted the state statute.
The ruling in the three-year-old case makes permanent a temporary injunction that had prevented district attorneys in Tarrant and Kaufman counties from prosecuting Beltex Corp. in Fort Worth and Dallas Crown Inc. in Kaufman. The two plants slaughter dozens of horses a week for human consumption in parts of Europe and Japan.
After former state Attorney General John Cornyn issued an opinion that a 1949 state law barred sale or transport of horse meat inTexas for human consumption, Tarrant County District Attorney Tim Curry said he would enforce it. In response, Fort Worth attorney David Broiles asked the federal judge for an injunction to allow the plants to keep operating.
Karin Cagle, an associate of Mr. Broiles, said the owners were happy with Thursday’s ruling but still face a potential nationwide ban on horse slaughter from the Congress this fall.
“The actions by the activists hang over their heads,” Ms. Cagle said. “Their businesses aren’t secure because a few vocal people are out to get them.”
Ann Diamond, an assistant district attorney who aided Mr. Curry in the state’s case, said the key to banning slaughter could lie with Congress. Her office was still reviewing Judge Means’ ruling and had not decided whether to appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The deadline for an appeal is Sept. 26.
“If this is the final decision, then both the state legislature and national legislature have to act,” Ms. Diamond said. “Either the Congress has to pass a nationwide ban, or they have to enact a law that allows Texas to pass a law banning it.”
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