Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Court Says Kaporos Ceremony Not Covered By Unfair Competition Law

In Animal Protection and Rescue League, Inc. v. Chabad of Irvine, (CA Super. Ct., June 23, 2017) a California trial court ruled that a challenge by an animal rights group to the Jewish pre-Yom Kippur ritual of kaporos should be dismissed.   The suit alleged violations of California's Unfair Competition Law which prohibits unlawful business practices, contending that the manner in which chickens used in the ritual were kept, slaughtered and disposed of violates various state and local laws.  The court held however that the kaporos ceremony is not a "business act or business practice," explaining:
Chabad-Irvine's purchase of chickens for the participants to use in the ... Kaporos ritual does not transform its conduct from that of a synagogue meeting ... the religious and spiritual needs of the community to that of a commercial enterprise....
... [M]any religious services or ceremonies result in donations being solicited and made (e.g. when offering plates or baskets are passed among a congregation during a religious service...). But that does not convert those religious activities, rituals and observances into business practices.
First Liberty issued a press release announcing the decision and also provides links to the pleadings and court orders in the case. Orange County Register reported on the decision.