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April 24, 2009

Fighting The Feathered Warrior

The Feathered Warrior isn't everyone's cup of tea. The monthly magazine, as a federal judge has described it, features:

"...ads for the sale of cockfighting supplies, illegal steroids, and animal fighting venues (i.e., cockfighting clubs) in states where cockfighting is illegal; ads for illegal animal fights; and listings of champions in recent cockfights."

Sounds like The New Yorker, but with more blood.

In a new memoranda published this week, U.S. District Judge James Robertson further noted that "publications like The Feathered Warrior are recovered in seventy-five percent or more of law enforcement raids of illegal animal fights and are offered in evidence to prove criminal culpability." Nonetheless, Judge Robertson declined an opportunity to render summary judgment in favor of the Humane Society of the United States, which wants the U.S. Postal Service to prohibit mailing of the magazine.

The magazine, by the way, bills itself as having been "published since 1903 in the interest of game fowl fanciers  all over the world." Game Fowl Fancier. Sounds so much more sophisticated than, say, cockfight gamblers.

Anyway, the Humane Society petitioned the Postal Service in 2006 to stop mailing the magazine. The Postal Service declined. In many respects, Judge Robertson appears to take a respectful view of the Humane Society's legal arguments, and a correspondingly skeptical -- indeed, almost scornful -- view of the Postal Service's claims. Nonetheless, citing some recent congressional revisions to the Animal Welfare Act that may affect the final outcome, the judge is giving the Postal Service another chance to make a final determination before the courts get involved.

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mike

"Suits & Sentences" is a legal affairs blog written by Michael Doyle, a reporter for McClatchy's Washington Bureau. He was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Yale Law School, where he earned a Master of Studies in Law; he also earned a Masters in Government from The Johns Hopkins University with a thesis on the Freedom of Information Act. He teaches journalism as an adjunct instructor at The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs.

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