Legislative obfuscation and its impact on wild horse litigation

That’s not the title of the article published online by The Horse written by horse loving lawyer Milt Toby. Toby calls it simply “Legislative Obfuscation”. A bit puzzled I thought, what does this have to do with horses.

First of all, if you are wondering, the definition of obfuscate is “To make so confused or opaque as to be difficult to perceive or understand.” So, I was immediately relieved he was not talking about the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act of 2011, just introduced in the Senate last week.

Secondly, if you are wondering what this has to do with horses, here it is.

Toby decided to dig into a piece of legislation called the “Government Litigation Savings Act” (HR 1996 and S 1061). As Toby states, the title gives little clue as to what the bill is really about.

Read on.

It turns out that the “litigation savings” in H.R.1996 and S.1061 are realized through amendments to the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”) that will make it much more difficult for advocacy groups to sue the federal government for failures to follow the law. The EAJA was adopted by Congress during the 1980s to make it possible for individuals and advocacy groups to enforce federal law by filing lawsuits against the agencies responsible for upholding those laws. Legal action against the government is very expensive, and the EAJA authorized the reimbursement of attorney fees for successful litigation against the feds.

(emphasis added)

Here comes the kicker, and Toby’s example of what sort of impact this bill could have, if passed, should send a few shivers.

Think wild horses and the Bureau of Land Management. When the BLM makes a mess of things, which seems to happen with some regularity, a spate of lawsuits follows. An animal welfare group almost always is involved, either as a named plaintiff or in a supporting role, and the possibility of recovering the costs of litigation often is a factor in deciding whether to sue. The Government Litigation Savings Act may not kill all of these public interest lawsuits, but it will limit them in two important ways:

First, the legislation would limit recovery of attorney fees to a plaintiff that wins the lawsuit and also “has a direct and personal monetary interest in the civil action, including because of personal injury, property damage, or unpaid agency disbursement.” This restriction rules out recovery by an organization objecting to some government action (or inaction) strictly on a public policy basis. Many wild horse advocacy groups likely would be affected by this restriction.

Second, the fee that can be awarded to a successful plaintiff is capped at $200,000 for a single lawsuit, or for more than three lawsuits filed in the same year. That might sound like a lot of money, but it’s a drop in the proverbial bucket when it comes to suing the government.

The bottom line from Toby is this. The legislation will make it much more difficult to rein in the BLM through court action.

Oh, by the way, it was legislators from Wyoming who introduced the measures. What is it with the legislators of Wyoming?

Read full report >>

4 thoughts on “Legislative obfuscation and its impact on wild horse litigation”

  1. All I can say is, WOW!!! What a covert, slimy mess that is being perpetrated on our natural resources, American citizens and legitimate welfare or conservation groups in the US!

    Thank you for educating us…. scary, very scary.


  2. I think this is a clear violation of the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting … the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”, and, if passed, should be challenged right up to the Supreme Court. for the following reasons:

    1. If passed, it would be a law;
    2. The SC recently upheld that the definition of “people” includes corporations and, by extension, institutions, which should include non-profits and not-for-profits regardless of their assets;
    3. “Petition” Webster’s New World Dictionary, 4th definition: “Law … a written request or plea in which specific court action is asked for.”;
    4. “Redress” WNWD, all definitions, but with no specific amount of “redress”‘ or preferential treatment for any party;
    5 “Grievance” WNWD, all definitions (the synonym cited is “injustice”)

    And this law would not only apply to those in the West who support it, but citizens, institutions, and corporations all over the country seeking redress from the government. Also, “frivolous” is entirely subjective. One person’s “frivolity” is another’s “important, serious, and sensible” action.

    If I were a lawyer, I might argue this should apply to the Feds as well, since it gives unlimited power to the government to sue, while limiting the power of the people (aka “corporations”) to appeal or countersue. Example: BP in the Gulf.

    This article includes a list of those supporting the legislation:

    Should any or all choose to bring suit against the government, they would be subject to this law as well. My advice is be careful what you wish for!


  3. When someone( et al) wants to head somebody off at the pass ,this is what they do invent ways for the PEOPLE to not be able to have any recourse to stop them…….., to get something over on our unsuspecting hearts, they did this to Bush when he signed to lift the ban On Horses via The Roam Act of 1971, this is being done to our horses at an alarming rate, What can we do?????? (its called politics)…………..I am so sick of our Horses suffering I could just Puke……………This crap did not start yesterday did it!!!!! Our Horses are so important , why dont they concentrate on something else ;like getting rid of the rats in New York’………………… We have to stop these brainless stupid jerks who will ruin our Beautiful County and make our horses only a memory, this is serious shit, and we need to stop at nothing to do it, we need to follow their lead in this……………….. Egypt set the bar on this issue ……………………………………


  4. Dear Vivian, What the heck is going on there???? maybe somebody made them some promises for their State to benefit???? this is very interesting isnt it.??? HUMMMMMMMMMM Theres a HUGE RAT somewhere here isnt there????? YOU CAN BET ON THIS ONE FOR SURE !!!!!!! Now we we need to find the stinking lieing Rat or rats…………..


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s