Supreme Court leaves in place Puerto Rico cockfighting ban

Politics

The Supreme Court is seen on the first day of the new term, in Washington, Monday, Oct. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is leaving in place a federal law that bars cockfighting in Puerto Rico.

The high court on Tuesday turned away a challenge to the law. As is typical, the high court did not explain why it declined to take the case.

Congress in 2018 changed a federal law that had permitted cockfighting in the territory. Individuals and organizations involved in cockfighting challenged the law, arguing that Congress had exceeded its powers in applying the ban to Puerto Rico. They noted that “cockfighting is deeply ingrained in the island’s history, tradition and culture.”

Cockfighting was introduced into the territory by the Spanish in the 16th century and Puerto Rican law calls it a “cultural right of all Puerto Ricans.” Puerto Rico estimates cockfighting supports more than 11,000 jobs and brings about $65 million into the territory’s economy annually.

Two lower courts had sided with the federal government and said Congress acted appropriately.

Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court turned away a challenge by organized labor opponents in Washington to a public records law that allows unions, but not the general public, to obtain contact information for in-home health care workers.

A federal appeals court ruled the law doesn’t violate the Constitution, but the challengers had hoped the court would follow on recent rulings against organized labor by taking up their case. The contact information would enable union opponents to more easily try to persuade the health-care providers to stop paying union dues. Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch said they would have granted the case.

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