Louisiana Pastor Claims Cockfighting Ban Violates His Religious Rights

A Louisiana pastor, Lloyd Plumbar, of the Holy Fight Ministries claims the state’s ban on cockfighting is in violation of his constitutional religious freedoms. Is this protected under the First Amendment? Attorney Ben Barry of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with WIZN discussing the issue. Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.

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Joe: 106.7 WIZN. It’s AC/DC “Moneytalks,” heard Lynyrd Skynyrd before that. Joe Vega here with you on your Wednesday “Rocking Ride Home” and I’m joined now by Ben Barry from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Ben.

Ben: Hello, Joe.

Joe: So Ben, today I’m calling you because of the story I read online about a man in Louisiana, his name is Lloyd Plumbar, who is a pastor for a church called Holy Fight Ministries which during their Sunday service engages in cockfighting, you know, the deadly combat between male chickens. And, of course, he was arrested for that, and he is claiming that the cockfighting is part of his religious experience, religious ceremony. And I guess my question is does the First Amendment cover cockfighting?

Ben: No it does not.

Joe: I wouldn’t think so.

Ben: The First Amendment, a first read of the provision that states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof or of religious practices sounds like it would cover cockfighting. However, in further case law and by further analysis of the courts, that religious protection in the First Amendment has been limited so long as the law that has been passed to prohibit something like cockfighting applies to all people and not to a specific religion. So in this circumstance, this minister is not going to be able to claim an exemption from the law based on a constitutional argument associated with his religious practice and the freedoms that are guaranteed thereunder. So I don’t think it’s… I don’t think it’s gonna fly and I don’t think…

Joe: So this argument that man has dominion over the animals isn’t gonna fly in a court of law?

Ben: I don’t know that the argument that man has dominion over animals is going to prevail. I don’t know that that’s actually even an argument that goes to the question as to whether or not there’s a protection that’s been violated by his arrest or by the statute. So I think that man has dominion over animal is sort of presumed.

Joe: It still doesn’t give him the right to treat chickens in that way. I mean, I think we can all agree that cockfighting is something that is illegal for a reason and should remain so. All right. Well, thank you very much. Ben Barry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Ben: Thank you, Joe.

Joe: Remember you can call Ben anytime at 1800law1010 or go online to 1800law1010.com. All right, I’m out of here. Mel Allen’s taking over. He’s got music from Twisted Sister and Boston next.

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