Budget bill indirectly defies federal cockfighting ban

Animal Wellness Action has released live-animal shipping records from the Guam Department of Agriculture that the group claims show more than 500 illegal shipments of fighting birds to Guam from 2017 to 2019.

The budget bill passed late Saturday night by the Legislature indirectly supported and defended the culturally significant practice of cockfighting on Guam thanks to an amendment introduced by Sen. Amanda Shelton.

Shelton’s amendment to the budget act makes the local enforcement of the federal cockfighting ban, set to take effect in December 2019, as the lowest priority of the government of Guam.

Last year, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed in the U.S. Congress banning cockfighting in the territories. However, no input from Guam was ever received.

Senator Shelton cited the following legal precedent as the basis for her amendment: “In Printz v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government may not compel state law enforcement agents to enforce federal regulations. The federal government may neither issue directives requiring states to address particular problems, nor command the state’s officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.” (Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898, 935 (1997).”

Shelton said the federal ban on cockfighting was not enacted by the people of Guam or its representatives and is being done against the people’s will.

“With the cash-strap on our budget, we cannot and should not be on the hook to pay for another federal unfunded mandate with our public safety dollars. Our taxpayers’ representatives could not vote on this ban, our taxpayers did not approve of this ban and our taxpayers do not want this ban. To use our taxpayer money to enforce this federal law would be taxation without representation,” Shelton said.