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Happy Thanksgiving!


In honor of Thanksgiving, here are some holiday- related legal stories.

Presidential Turkey Pardoning

The presidential tradition of pardoning a turkey at Thanksgiving has an interesting history. You can read a full history of this tradition at the White House Historical Association’s website. Abraham Lincoln was not the first President pardon a turkey, as it is commonly thought. As it turns out, President George H. W. Bush was the first to use the term “pardon” after a turkey was presented to the president and was sent to live on a nearby children’s farm.

Holiday Music – Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona faced multiple lawsuits from inmates incarcerated in the Maricopa County Jail. At least six of those lawsuits were over holiday tunes.

Inmates sued Arpaio alleging that playing holiday music 12 hours a day, from Thanksgiving through the New Year, was cruel and unusual punishment and violated their civil rights.

In every case the courts found that this was not a violation of a person’s rights and was not cruel and unusual punishment.

Tofurkey Producer Sues Texas over Labeling Laws

The makers of Tofurkey, Turtle Island Foods, is an Oregon company that produces plant-based products. They have filed a suit against the State of Texas claiming that a newly enacted Texas meat labeling law is unconstitutional. The new law requires producers to label plant-based meat products with specific language such as “analogue product” and “cell cultured” to distinguish it from natural meat. Turtle Island Foods SPC v. Abbott argues that the new law places unnecessary restrictions on out-of-state producers whose products already meet labeling requirements by the FDA and USDA. There is an interesting blog post regarding the lawsuit on the Texas A&M extension office website here.

In the “To Be Thankful For” Category

Remember that just 3 years ago, during the COVID pandemic, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 20-65 prior to Thanksgiving. The order prohibited more than six people gathering in private homes. Infractions carried a criminal fine of up to $1,250 and potentially 30 days of jail time.

It’s nice to know that we don’t have to restrict our holiday festivities this year. I hope you enjoy the holidays.

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