The United States Department of Agriculture recently took aim at the Tennessee Walking Horse industry’s failed efforts at self-regulation with a new rule requiring mandatory minimum penalties for violations of the Horse Protection Act (HPA). The rule will take effect in a few days, on July 9.

Unless it doesn’t.

The industryÑparts of it, anywayÑfired back on June 25, challenging the new rule with a lawsuit filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division. The plaintiffs are asking for relief in the short term (a temporary restraining order that would prevent the implementation of the rule as scheduled) and a more lasting solution (a permanent injunction barring implementation or enforcement of the rule by the USDA and a decision from the court that the rule is unconstitutional).

The lawsuit doesn’t even try to defend the practice of soring Walking Horses, which is a good thing. The practice is indefensible. In fact, the complaint acknowledges that soring horses amounts to “cheating that is cruel to the horse” and that it “results in a fraud on participants and has a negative impact on the breed and the industry.”

It sounds as if the plaintiffs agree with the USDA about soring. So why is everyone in court?

Who’s Involved?

Rather than spend time attacking the substantive parts of the new rule, the plaintiffs instead concentrate on a number of significant procedural issues:

_The rule violates Article I and Article III of the United States Constitution;

_The rule violates the federal Administrativ