Cockfighting is Legal in Puerto Rico … Sort Of

Though this is a bit late, there was some good news out of Puerto Rico late last year. During 2019, a cockfighting ban was approved by Congress and the entire cockfighting industry in Puerto Rico was on the verge of closing down resulting in throwing hundreds of people out of work

The federal cockfighting ban was enacted at the behest of the Humane Society (yeah, right) and other animal rights groups who have been lobbying to outlaw the sport for years. Their efforts bore fruit to the despair of Puerto Ricans who have conducted cockfighting for about 4 centuries. Fortunately, Puerto Rican lawmakers banded together and passed legislation re-legalizing the sport a few days prior to the Congressional ban taking effect.

Puerto Rico’s defiance of federal law set up a court battle between the island territory and the U.S. government. However, as Puerto Rico Report points out, the legal arguments made by the U.S. Justice Department in defense of the ban, are citing rules that prohibited many aspects of cockfighting which have been in place for a long time but were never enforced.

I am not an attorney but, despite even the territorial clause of the U.S. Constitution, my understanding is that the Justice Department’s lack of due diligence in enforcing statutes related to cockfighting might weaken the their position in court and strengthen Puerto Rico’s. I do believe that, in a general sense, if laws are enacted, but not enforced over a period of time, a court can declare them invalid. If so, the federal government’s lack of enforcement could blow up the U.S. Department of Justice’s case.

If Puerto Rico loses, it might be time for Puerto Ricans to consider independence from the United States. But only time will tell. In the meantime, buena suerte Puerto Rico!

PHOTO CREDIT: Wikimedia – Puerto Rican cockfighting club, 1937