According to their brief filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, “There are six individual and three organization plaintiffs here. In all—sometimes by themselves, and sometimes in combination—they present at least seven entirely separate and distinct interests, any one of which, it is alleged, suffices to satisfy the Supreme Court’s requirement . . . for standing to challenge an alleged unconstitutional statute.”
There are those who have given up eating livestock meat entirely: Landek, because she cannot ascertain at the consumer level whether the meat she might purchase came from a ritually slaughtered animal who was shackled and hoisted while conscious; Jones, who on ethical grounds is opposed to eating meat.
There are those–Steinberg, Weiss, and Buick—who are faced with the dilemma of wanting to eat meat but having to risk violating their ethical, moral and or religious beliefs because they are unable to ascertain at the consumer level the meat’s source, including Holohan who will probably cease eating meat if this action is unsuccessful.
There are those who are non-Jews—Steinberg, Weiss, Buick, and Holohan – who because of the problem of identification of the meat’s source at the consumer level, may unknowingly obtain meat from animals which have been ritually slaughtered and shackled and hoisted while fully conscious.
There are those who are federal taxpayers: Landek, Jones, Steinberg, Weiss, Buick, and Holohan.
There is Society for Animal Rights, Inc, a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization . . . devoted to the welfare of animals and the protection of animals from all forms of cruelty and suffering. . . .* * * The Society . . . sues here on its own behalf and that of its approximately 25,000 members. . . .
There is the Committee for Humane Slaughter, an ad hoc unincorporated association of persons—including all the individual plaintiffs here—whose purpose is to assure that all livestock animals slaughtered, and to be slaughtered in the United States of America, are handled prior to slaughter, and slaughtered, in a humane manner.
There is the Committee for a Wall of Separation of Church and State in America, an ad hoc unincorporated association including all of the individual plaintiffs here — . . . whose purpose is to assure that the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States are strictly adhered to at all times . . . .”
It is apparent that given the judicial requirements for “standing to sue,” Professor Holzer’s complaint sought to enlist human plaintiffs who represented virtually every kind of personal interest. This was to assure that someone would be able to invoke the power of the federal courts to decide the constitutional questions, and in so doing hopefully protect the animals, who were the plaintiffs’ primary concern.
Moreover, because there is a provision in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allowing an individual to sue as the “next friend” of another, and because the fundamental intent of the lawsuit was to protect livestock animals, there was one additional plaintiff: Helen E. Jones as next friend and “guardian for all livestock animals now and hereafter awaiting slaughter in the United States.”
In other words, in addition to the human plaintiffs themselves, Holzer sued through a human plaintiff on behalf of animal plaintiffs. This innovative—indeed, revolutionary idea—had never been attempted in an American court. Animals—in this case, livestock—through human agency were suing to protect their own rights, albeit by asserting a claim that the federal statute depriving them of those rights violated the Religion Clauses of the Constitution of the United States.
Although the underlying claims dealt with the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of the Javits-Case amendment’s exception to the federal Humane Slaughter Act’s “render insensible” requirement, the threshold issue was “standing to sue.” To understand how the court resolved that question, and the implicit question of whether the livestock animals had such standing, it is necessary to understand the court’s entire opinion.
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