(Reno, NV) Today Reno Federal Court Judge Miranda Du denied a request by government attorneys to delay hearings on First Amendment claims made against Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge in regard to access to horses removed from the Refuge last month. The government argument was based on the current “shutdown.”
The Order states in part: “At this point the length of the government shutdown is unclear, but the duration of the horses’ placement at the temporary holding facility will be brief. In fact, if a stay is granted, the issue set for the October 10, 2013, hearing may be moot by the time the appropriations issue is resolved. Additionally, even if shipment of horses is halted during the period of the government shutdown, and horses remain at the temporary holding facility through the requested stay, Plaintiffs’ First Amendment right of access to viewing may be abridged given the ongoing nature of the alleged violation.”
“I am afraid that horses from Sheldon are going to disappear once again without any ability to document their condition and identity prior to shipping to such an uncertain fate,” stated co-Plaintiff Laura Leigh, President of Wild Horse Education, “These horses are significant to the history of our nation as America’s ‘War Horse,’ it is extremely distressing that a primary Constitutional Right is being violated as these horses stand on the verge of being shipped to an uncertain fate that includes a potential trip to the slaughterhouse. As an American my hearts aches on so many levels.”
Leigh has a First Amendment claim heading back to the Ninth Circuit Court dealing with wild horse access issues and another government agency the Bureau of Land Management, BLM. A prior ruling in that Ninth Circuit case was cited by Judge Du in her Order regarding the Denial of the Motion to stay this case, “the courts have a duty to conduct a thorough and searching review of any attempt to restrict public access,” Leigh v. Salazar, 677 F.3d 892, 900 (9th Cir. 2012)
The First Amendment claim is part of a larger Complaint that addresses historic and present conduct by Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge that places these symbols of our military history in jeopardy of inappropriate care and slaughter. The case was brought by attorney Gordon Cowan of Reno on behalf of Bonnie Kohleriter and Laura Leigh.
The Refuge plans on removing the last of the horses that inhabit the range by fall of next year.
Multiple Motions and briefs have been filed in this case and the three other active federal cases carried by WildHorseEducation.org. We need your support.
WildHorseEducation.org is a Nevada non-profit devoted to gaining protection for wild horses and burros from abuse, slaughter and extinction.
Links of interest:
Wild Horse Education Website: http://wildhorseeducation.org
Website on Sheldon horses: http://sheldonhorses.wordpress.com/