United States v. Gibert; United States v. Benfield; United States v. Hoover; United States v. Grooms; United States v. Jeffcoat, No. 10-4848 (4th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Defendants were indicted for their roles in organizing, operating, and participating in "gamefowl derbies," otherwise known as "cockfighting." Defendants entered a conditional plea of guilty to the charge of conspiring to violate the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. 2156 (the animal fighting statute). At issue was whether Congress exceeded its power under the Commerce Clause in enacting a criminal prohibition against animal fighting. The court held that the animal fighting statute prohibits activities that substantially affected interstate commerce and thus, was a legitimate exercise of Congress' power under the Commerce Clause. The court also held that the statute did not require the government to prove defendants' knowledge regarding the particular venture's nexus to interstate commerce. Accordingly, the court affirmed the convictions.