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WASHINGTON — The Humane Society of the United States announced a partial settlement of its federal lawsuit challenging the sale of criminal animal fighting magazines on Amazon.com in violation of the Federal Animal Welfare Act.
The agreement — entered into between The HSUS and the publishers of "The Gamecock" magazine — was reached immediately after the Supreme Court announced its decision in U.S. v. Williams upholding a federal law banning the promotion of child pornography.
The settlement calls for major format changes to the magazine, including the elimination of all advertisements for fighting animals, knives and other illegal paraphernalia. The magazine will also be pulled from Amazon.com, and cannot return until "The Gamecock" demonstrates compliance with federal law for at least one year.
Amazon.com has vowed to fight on in the case, arguing it has a constitutional right to advertise and sell illegal animal fighting paraphernalia – a bizarre position that the publishers of "The Gamecock" magazine have now decided not to press in court, and which the Supreme Court unequivocally rejected in Williams by a 7-2 vote.
"Amazon cannot seem to grasp that the First Amendment does not offer any defense for people who want to peddle contraband," said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president of animal protection litigation for The HSUS. "Neither child pornographers nor dogfighters or cockfighters may use the First Amendment to protect their schemes to advertise and sell product that further these criminal and demonstrably harmful practices."
The suit, which was filed in 2007, alleges that Amazon.com's sale of two cockfighting trade publications – "The Feathered Warrior" and "The Gamecock"—violates the Animal Welfare Act's prohibition on the mailing or other use of interstate commerce to advertise or sell fighting dogs, fighting birds, and animal fighting paraphernalia. The suit also names the publishers of the two magazines as defendants, as well as an intermediary distributor of the publications.
The Farm Bill, recently approved by the House and Senate and awaiting the President's signature or a veto override, furthers strengthens the federal animal fighting law to crack down on animal fighting and the sale of the accoutrements of the fighting industries.
The HSUS is represented in the case by the Washington, D.C. law firm of Ross, Dixon & Bell, LLP, which is providing pro bono legal services, and lawyers with The HSUS' animal protection litigation section.
To view the settlement agreement, please click here.
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