Whoa: Putting A Stop To Horse Slaughter

Lawyer Andrew Cohen analyzes legal affairs for CBS News and CBSNews.com.
Great news for many of you this afternoon from Illinois, where the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has dealt a huge (and perhaps the necessary final) blow to a horse slaughtering company operating in the Land of Lincoln. The federal appeals court upheld Illinois' recent ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption, a decision that effectively closes the last remaining plant in the country that undertakes such dark work for such an ignoble cause.

The company, Cavel International, slaughters horses in Illinois and then sells the meat to overseas companies who then provide it to consumers who yearn to eat horsemeat. As disgusting as that sounds to me, and as gross as it may sound to you, horsemeat is a delicacy in places like Japan, and France, and Belgium and now folks in those countries will have to find other ways to satisfy those particular and peculiar appetites.

The decision upholds the Illinois Horse Meat Act, enacted this May by state legislators to shut down Cavel and any other businesses who might be inclined to pick up that company's slack. As a result of the ruling, many more horses will be euthanized more humanely and forbidding "killers" who scout horse sales looking for "candidates" for the slaughterhouse will have to find something a little more uplifting to do for a living. In short, a barbaric practice that has lasted too long will last no more.

The 15-page opinion was brilliantly written by Richard A. Posner, one of the most prolific and eclectic members of the federal judiciary. To give you an idea of the tone of the opinion, here is some of what Posner wrote:

But even if no horses live longer as a result of the new law, a state is permitted, within reason, to express disgust at what people do with the dead, whether dead human beings or dead animals. There would be an uproar if restaurants in Chicago started serving cat and dog steaks, even though millions of stray cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters.
The next step? Congress, where there is pending legislation that would uniformly prohibit the slaughter of horses for human consumption from sea to shining sea. Surely even the current do-nothing Congress could and should fix that.