Guam judge rejects effort to nullify cockfighting ban

December 21, 2019 GMT

HAGATNA, Guam (AP) — A judge in the U.S. territory of Guam has ruled against a local businessman’s attempt to continue cockfighting despite a new American law banning it.

U.S. District Court of Guam Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan Jr. denied Sefrey Linsangan’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the new prohibition, the Pacific Daily News reported Friday.

Linsangan, described in court papers as a business owner involved in “gamefowl raising and competition” for 40 years, argued the ban was unconstitutional.

“It is not only part of his culture, custom and tradition but also a hobby, pastime, exercise and sport,” the lawsuit said.

President Donald Trump last year signed a law banning all animal fighting in the U.S. territories. The law took effect on Friday. Prior to the law, cockfighting had been illegal in the 50 states but not U.S. territories.

The judge wrote that Linsangan failed to show how the federal ban deprives him of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”

He said Linsangan didn’t show that enacting the cockfighting ban discriminated against him or any person on account of his race, language or religion. Manibusan said the law applies uniformly throughout the 50 states and territories.

He said he sympathized with the argument that the people of Guam have been disenfranchised because the territory’s residents aren’t allowed to vote for president, nor are they allowed to elect voting members of Congress.

“The remedy for such disenfranchisement lies within the political, not judicial, process,” he wrote.

On Wednesday, Gov. Wanda Vázquez of Puerto Rico, another U.S. territory, signed a bill authorizing cockfighting in defiance of the federal ban.

The measure says it is legal for Puerto Rico to host cockfights as long as people don’t export or import cocks or any goods or services related to cockfighting.