First Liberty Files Motion to Dissolve TRO on Behalf of Chabad of Irvine

October 11th, 2016

Moments before the Central District of California’s imposed deadline, attorneys from First liberty, Wilmer Hale, and M. Jones & Associates filed a motion to dissolve the court’s temporary restraining order in the Chabad of Irvine Kaparrot case. You can find First Liberty’s brief here.

I blogged about the case on Sunday, and filed an amicus brief late last night. As I noted in my amicus brief, there is no subject matter jurisdiction. This provides an easy way to dispose of this case.

The parties requested a telephonic hearing today, to permit Chabad to engage in the ritual today, on the eve of Yom Kippur.

Here is the crux of Chabad’s analysis:

Defendants Chabad of Irvine and Alter Tenenbaum (collectively, “Chabad”) bring this emergency motion to dissolve the ex parte temporary restraining order (“TRO”), issued on October 7, 2016. The Chabad respectfully requests that the TRO be dissolved today in time for Yom Kippur this evening, when the kaporos1 ceremony takes place. As explained further, the kaporos ceremony is humanely performed in a manner consistent with federal and state animal slaughter laws and is a centuries-old religious practice that is constitutionally protected. The United States Supreme Court has held – unanimously – that laws may not permit the killing of animals for secular purposes while singling out for prohibition the killing of animals for religious purposes. See Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 537-38 (1993) (holding that First Amendment precludes application of Florida’s animal cruelty statute to religious sacrifice of animals). In the face of this holding, Plaintiff United Poultry Concerns (“Plaintiff”) has not satisfied and cannot satisfy the requirements necessary for an ex parte TRO or a preliminary injunction to issue. To assist the Court, Chabad moves for a telephonic hearing to take place today on the request to lift the TRO.

Plaintiff has also failed to satisfy the requirements for obtaining a preliminary injunction. Plaintiff lacks standing to bring an action under California’s Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), as it alleges no cognizable injury as a result of the Chabad’s religious practices. What is more, the UCL, which is directed at business and commercial conduct, does not apply to religious ceremonies. And, more basically, Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate any of the traditional elements required to obtain injunctive relief, while the Chabad will suffer irreparable harm if they are precluded, on the eve of Yom Kippur, from practicing a ritual central to their faith. Accordingly, the Court should deny Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

Finally, the Chabad moves to strike Plaintiff’s Complaint as a violation of a California statute prohibiting strategic lawsuits against public participation (i.e., the Anti-SLAPP statute).