‘Opossum Drop’ Exemption Law Brings on New Lawsuit From PETA

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Filing Today Says Local Law Violates North Carolina and U.S. Constitutional Guarantees of Equal Protection of the Law

For Immediate Release:

July 17, 2014


Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Raleigh, N.C. – It’s illegal to have sex with an opossum in North Carolina—except in Clay County between December 26 and January 2, thanks to a state law designed to allow Opossum Drop organizers to dangle a terrified opossum above a crowd of rowdy revelers on New Year’s Eve. Now, that law is coming under fire from PETA and several North Carolina residents, who filed a lawsuit today seeking an injunction against the law’s taking effect—as well as a declaration that it is unconstitutional—on the grounds that it violates constitutional rights to fair and impartial laws by allowing one class of people (organizers of the Opossum Drop in Clay County) to engage for one week each year in activity that would be punishable by fines and jail time anywhere else in the state, among other grounds.

“PETA’s lawsuit contends that it’s plainly unconstitutional to exempt a select group of people—in this case, Opossum Drop organizers with friends in high places—from North Carolina state laws,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “The North Carolina legislature had no more legal basis for passing this law than for exempting themselves from paying state taxes or business owners from child labor laws.

The lawsuit notes one example of the challenged law’s unconstitutionality: While licensed wildlife rehabilitators outside of Clay County who rescue and provide care for injured and orphaned wild animals in North Carolina, including opossums, are required to comply all days of the year with state wildlife laws—through obtaining licenses, paying licensing fees, and more—the challenged law allows people in Clay County, such as Opossum Drop organizers, to keep and harass opossums in any manner they choose between December 26 and January 2.

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