Court Calendar

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2001:

Court Calendar

A World Trade Organization tribunal ruled on June 19 that the U.S. ban on imports of shrimp caught by vessels which do not use Turtle Excluder Devices does not unfairly restrict trade, and may therefore stand. The U.S. ban was introduced as an enforcement regulation under the Endangered Species Act in 1987, but was held by the WTO to be an unfair trade barrier when challenged in 1996 by Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Pakistan. The U.S. then amended the import ban to allow exceptions from the import ban for shrimp caught by boats pulling TEDs, even if the exporting nations do not require TEDs. The WTO ruling takes away perhaps the best-known activist objection to the WTO system of resolving trade disputes, which allows WTO to rule against national environmental protection, animal protection, labor, human rights, and public health standards, if the standards are found to be unjustly discriminatory.

A judge in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on June 13 denied a claim by the owners of the alleged pirate shark-finning vessel Maria Canela II that their rights were violated on March 22 when the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society patrol boat Sirenia helped Gallapagos Marine Reserve officials to seize the vessel and catch.
The U.S. Supreme Court on June 18 overturned, 6-3, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruling that San Francisco police officer Donald Saucier did not enjoy “qualified immunity” in 1994 when he dragged In Defense of Animals president Elliot Katz away from an appearance by then-U.S. Vice President Al Gore, as Katz tried to unfurl a protest banner. Katz was not charged with any offense. Claiming he was handled with unjustifiable violence, Katz sued Saucier for allegedly violating his civil rights. The Supreme Court dismissed the suit.

Hindu attorney Harish Bharti on May 1 filed a class action lawsuit in Seattle against the McDonald’s restaurant chain on behalf of all Hindu and vegetarian Americans, for failing to disclose that McDonald’s french fries sold in the U.S. are seasoned with beef fat. McDonald’s announced in 1990 that it would only use pure vegetable oil in making fries. The fry recipe posted at the McDonald’s web site does not mention beef fat. Bharti filed a parallel case on June 11 in Houston, and indicated that he may file others in additional venues. McDonald’s said that beef fat has never been used in fries sold in India, but protesters stormed franchises in Mumbai and Thane anyway on May 3, to “purify” them with cow dung.

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