In May, the state of Illinois passed a law making it illegal to slaughter horses for human consumption. This law would also close down the last slaughterhouse for human consumption in the US. After the law was passed, Cavel International, the owner of this Illinois slaughterhouse, filed suit saying that the state had no constitutional authority to ban slaughter on moral grounds. A judge allowed the slaughterhouse to remain temporarily open.
Now, the company’s temporary order to remain open has expired and the judge has refused their request to stay open. The slaughterhouse will be closed as of now. The judge wrote that he “no longer believes that plaintiffs have shown a strong or even negligible likelihood of succeeding on the merits of the action pending before this court.”
The judge has not ruled on the original lawsuit by Cavel. He will wait to see if the Humane Society of the United States can be a party in the case.
Our primary reaction is we’ll wait and see what the next step is,” said Ann Spillane, chief of staff for the state attorney general. “There are obviously further legal proceedings that are going to happen.”
Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for the Humane Society, said the group was “happy that the court is recognizing that Cavel has no legal argument for evading the state law.”
The Cavel plant has operated in DeKalb for about 20 years and slaughters about 1,000 horses a week, according to plant officials.
Cavel lawyers say the Illinois law violates the interstate and foreign commerce clauses of the U.S. Constitution. They argue the plant’s closure would deprive about 55 people of jobs.
Supporters say without horse slaughterhouses, more older or otherwise marginalized horses would be neglected or abandoned because some owners won’t pay the cost to have them euthanatized.
Critics say the slaughter process is inhumane. Some also argue the nation has no tradition of raising horses for meat, and shouldn’t be doing so to satisfy foreign consumers.