Lawsuits Concerning the Animal Welfare Regulations

As mentioned earlier, the definition of animals in the AWRs excludes birds, rats, and mice specifically bred for use in research. After parts 1 and 2 of the AWRs became final in 1989, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) filed a rule-making petition with the USDA to amend the regulations to include rats, mice, and birds in the definition of animals. After the USDA denied the petition in 1990, the ALDF and the HSUS brought suit in federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment and an injunction preventing the USDA from excluding coverage of rats, mice, and birds. In 1992 the ALDF and the HSUS were granted summary judgment, and the USDA was ordered to reconsider its denial of plaintiffs' petition in light of the court's opinion holding the exclusion of rats, mice, and birds to be arbitrary and capricious (Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Madigan, 1992). The USDA appealed, and on May 20, 1994, the court of appeals vacated the district court's decision and directed the lower court to dismiss, holding that none of the petitioners had demonstrated both constitutional standing to sue and a statutory right to judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act—leaving regulations, and presumably practice, to stand unchanged (Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Espy, 1994). In 1998, however, the Alternatives Research and Development Foundation filed a new suit to force the inclusion of rats, mice, and birds under AWA. The USDA settled the case (Alternatives Research and Development Foundation v. Glickman) in 2000, agreeing to inclusions. But the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 blocked the settlement. This amendment permanently denied rats, mice, and birds legal protection under AWA.

The USDA regulations concerning requirements for exercise of dogs and for a physical environment adequate to promote the psychological well-being of nonhuman primates were published in February 1991. The ALDF and others sued, alleging that these regulations did not comply with the 1985 amendments of the AWA because they did not provide minimum standards for exercise of dogs and for adequate cage size and environmental enrichment for nonhuman primates as required by Congress. The district court granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment in February 1993 (Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Secretary of

Agriculture, 1993). It was unclear at the time of this decision whether the federal government would appeal the decision, so the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR) moved to intervene in the case to ensure an appeal. Although the NABR motion was originally denied, the denial was reversed by the court of appeals. The federal government subsequently decided to pursue an appeal, and the consolidated appeal was argued in May 1994. Two months later, the court of appeals vacated the district court's decision and directed the lower court to dismiss, concluding that the ALDF and the other appellees lacked standing to challenge USDA regulations (for the same reasons cited in the ALDF/ HSUS case), again leaving policy unchanged.

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