Oklahoma Supreme Court won't withdraw from cockfighting lawsuit

Monday, September 8th 2003, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The Oklahoma Supreme Court refused Monday to withdraw from a case on the constitutionality of Oklahoma's ban on cockfighting.

Cockfighters had protested a referee's report that rejected their claim that seven Supreme Court justices were biased. Two of the nine justices previously disqualified themselves.

An order signed Monday by Chief Justice Joseph M. Watt said cockfighters "have failed to show any tenable legal grounds to require disqualification of any of the seven sitting justices of this court."

The court did not rule on other issues in the case and gave cockfighters 30 days to file briefs.

Earlier this year, Attorney General Drew Edmondson asked the court to uphold the constitutionality of the cockfighting ban, approved by a 125,000-vote margin last year.

Injunctions and temporary restraining orders have suspended enforcement of the ban in about 30 of the state's 77 counties.

Cockfighters have argued the prohibition is unconstitutionally vague and deprives people involved in the cockfighting industry of their property.

Edmondson said the core issue in the case is the people's right to engage in the initiative petition process.

The attorney general contends the state has a legitimate interest in banning cockfighting to prevent cruelty to animals. He also said prohibiting possession of gamecocks is a legitimate use of the state's police power.

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