Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Challenge To State Law Protection of Ritual Slaughter Held Non-Justiciable

In Pasado's Safe Haven v. State of Washington, (WA App., July 25, 2011), a  Washington state appeals court dismissed as non-justiciable a challenge brought by an animal rescue organization to the provisions in Washington's Humane Slaughter Law permitting kosher and halal slaughtering of animals.  The law defines as humane either the stunning of animals, or slaughter pursuant to religious ritual that calls for instantaneous severance of the carotid arteries. The statute also provides that nothing in the statute shall be construed to abridge religious freedom.  Plaintiff sought to have those provisions declared unconstitutional and stricken from the statute. The court held, however, that the challenged provisions are inseverable from the remainder of the law, so that if they were found unconstitutional the court would need to invalidate the entire statute. Thus, in the court's language:
were plaintiffs to prevail on any one of their various constitutional challenges, the relief obtainable—a judgment declaring the challenged statute to be invalid in its entirety—is neither sought nor desired. Thus, regardless of our resolution of the merits of the various challenges made, at the end of this case the status quo would necessarily prevail. Our opinion would be nothing more than an advisory one.