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Ill. Gamefowl Breeders Ass'n v. Block

OPINION FILED MARCH 14, 1979.

ILLINOIS GAMEFOWL BREEDERS ASSOCIATION, APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN BLOCK, DIRECTOR OF AGRICULTURE, APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Bureau County, the Hon. C. Howard Wampler, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE UNDERWOOD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied May 30, 1979.

Plaintiff, Illinois Gamefowl Breeders Association, a not-for-profit Illinois corporation, filed an action for declaratory judgment pursuant to section 57.1 of the Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 110, par. 57.1) seeking a declaration that certain provisions of the Humane Care for Animals Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 8, par. 701 et seq.) were unconstitutional. Following the submission of cross-motions for summary judgment, the Bureau County circuit court declared the challenged provisions unconstitutional. Defendant appealed directly to this court pursuant to our Rule 302(a). 58 Ill.2d R. 302(a).

The Association exists for the purpose of uniting breeders and fanciers of gamefowl into a common organization, thereby benefiting its members by exchanging and distributing information and ideas concerning the perpetuation and improvement of the various breeds of gamefowl. Additionally, plaintiff alleges that it has a proprietary interest in the breeding, raising and selling of gamefowl and owns gamefowl. Finally, although the parties stipulated that the term "gamefowl" refers to chickens, plaintiff did allege in its complaint that "gamefowl are animals within the scope, meaning, intent and application" of the Act.

Section 4.01 of the Act provides in part:

"Sec. 4.01. (a) No person may own, capture, breed, train, or lease any animal which he or she knows or should know is intended for use in any show, exhibition, program, or other activity featuring or otherwise involving a fight between such animal and any other animal or the intentional killing of any animal for the purpose of sport, wagering, or entertainment.

(b) No person shall promote, conduct, carry on, advertise, collect money for or in any other manner assist or aid in the presentation for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment, any show, exhibition, program, or other activity involving a fight between two or more animals or the intentional killing of any animal.

(c) No person shall sell or offer for sale, ship, transport, or otherwise move, or deliver or receive any animal which he or she knows or should know has been captured, bred, or trained, or will be used, to fight another animal or be intentionally killed, for the purpose of sport, wagering, or entertainment." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 8, pars. 704.01(a), (b), (c).)

Plaintiff challenged subsections (a) and (c) of section 4.01 and the corresponding penalty provisions in section 16 of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 8, par. 716). These sections essentially prohibit owning, breeding, training, selling, shipping or receiving animals which one knows or should know are intended to be used for fighting purposes. Plaintiff does not challenge the validity of subsection (b) of section 4.01, which actually prohibits animal fighting for sport, wagering or entertainment.

A preliminary question which must be addressed is whether plaintiff has standing to maintain an action for declaratory relief. This court discussed the two requirements for standing to bring a declaratory judgment action in Underground Contractors Association v. City of Chicago (1977), 66 Ill.2d 371:

"First, there must be an `actual controversy.' (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110, par. 57.1(1).) `Actual' in this context does not mean that a wrong must have been committed and injury inflicted. Rather, it requires a showing that the underlying facts and issues of the case are not moot or premature, so as to require the court to pass judgment on mere abstract propositions of law, render an advisory opinion, or give legal advice as to future events. [Citations.] The case must, therefore, present a concrete dispute admitting of an immediate and definitive determination of the parties' rights, the resolution of which will aid in the termination of the controversy or some part thereof. [Citations.]

The second, and somewhat related requirement, is that the party seeking the declaration must be `interested in the controversy.' (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110, par. 57.1(1).) The word, `interested' does not mean merely having a curiosity about or a concern for the outcome of the controversy. Rather, the party seeking relief must possess a personal claim, status, or right which is capable of being affected. [Citations.] The dispute must, therefore, touch the legal relations of parties who stand in a position adverse to one another." (66 Ill.2d 371, 375-76.)

In order to preclude those persons having no interest in a controversy from bringing suit, it is necessary that one who challenges the constitutionality of a statute bring himself within the class as to whom the law is allegedly unconstitutional. (Schiller Park Colonial Inn, Inc. v. Berz (1976), 63 Ill.2d 499, 510-11; People v. Bombacino (1972), 51 Ill.2d 17, 20; Jaffe v. Cruttenden (1952), 412 Ill. 606, 613.) To have standing, therefore, one must have sustained, or be in immediate danger of sustaining, a direct injury as a result of ...


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