Washington state court upholds kosher slaughter law

WASHINGTON (JTA) – A Washington state appellate court ruled against an animal protection group’s bid to strike down as unconstitutional a law protecting religious slaughter.

The three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals on July 25 was unanimous in rejecting the suit brought by Pasado’s Safe Haven.

The state law defines as humane stunning an animal before slaughter, which is the conventional means of slaughter, and severing the carotid artery, which it says is "in accordance with the ritual requirements of (a) religious faith." The latter method is used in Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter.

Pasado’s said the law was unconstitutional in part because it favored religious ritual over other methods. The court rejected the claim, saying that invalidating part of an act while upholding another would usurp the state Legislature.

The Orthodox Union, an umbrella body for synagogues and a kosher certifier, praised the ruling.  

"Kosher slaughter has been targeted by various fringe activists, but it is a necessary component of our community’s religious life," it said in a statement. "We appreciate that elected officials, such as those in the Washington legislature, recognize the humane nature of shechita, and ensure its protection and thereby the flourishing of Orthodox Jewish life. "

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