Supreme Court denies petition to appeal federal anti-cockfighting law

American territories have failed in their attempts to have the federal cockfighting ban law struck down with the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear Puerto Rico's appeal.

The pleading came to the Supreme Court after lower U.S. courts upheld the federal law that applies across the nation.

In each case, the federal courts affirmed that Congress has the authority to establish that no part of the United States, whether a state or a territory, should be a refuge for staged animal fights.

In December 2018, Congress passed, and the President signed, the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018; that legislative package included a provision applying all federal prohibitions against animal fighting to the U.S. territories.

Congress gave the territories a year to comply, with the prohibition taking effect on December 20, 2019.

That latest amendment to the federal animal fighting law made it a felony to operate a cockfighting venue or to participate in animal fights. Other provisions of the federal anti-animal fighting law – such as prohibitions on transporting or receiving fighting birds, trading in fighting implements, or being a spectator at an animal fighting event -- had already applied to the territories for years.