INDIAHOMA, OK (KSWO) - A cockfighting bust in Kiowa County over the weekend is bringing to light the hidden world of cockfighting.
It became illegal in Oklahoma in 2002. Despite that, it is still happening, as evidenced by the 22 people arrested in a raid near Cooperton.
After that arrest, a southwest Oklahoma man who says he's a gamecock farmer reached out to 7NEWS in defense of it.
B.L. Cozad said he has been a gamecock farmer since he was 8 years old and believes the laws against cockfighting in Oklahoma infringe upon his constitutional rights.
He said the law voted on in 2002 violates his first, fourth, fifth, eighth, ninth, tenth and fourteenth amendment rights. 7NEWS took his concerns to several lawyers in Lawton to see if they could break down his claims. While none of them wanted to go on camera or be identified, those lawyers were very helpful and provided me with answers - and court precedence -- they believe shows the laws are constitutional.
Cozad's entire argument is centered around the United States Constitution, and more specifically, what is called the Supremacy Clause.
"Article 6 paragraph two of the U.S. Constitution is the Supremacy Clause. Any law that is in conflict with the constitution is, therefore, an illegal law, it cannot stand. This law that they passed here in Oklahoma is unconstitutional," Cozad said.
Cozad said the law directly contradicts The Constitution in a number of ways.
"This law violates the First Amendment of The Constitution. God gave man dominion over the animals, fish and Earth. Dominion means to control and rule. My free exercise of religion, protected by the First Amendment, is exercising the dominion God gave me over the animals I own."
The lawyers 7NEWS spoke with directed us to the 2004 court case Edmondson v. Pearce, where the cockfighting law was challenged in court. That case, which ultimately concluded with the law being upheld and deemed constitutional, does not make any mention of the freedom of religion.
Cozad also believes the law violates his Fourth Amendment rights.
"The fourth amendment, my home, the home is a man's castle. You're supposed to be protected inside your home and your property. The government is invading our homes and invading our property using the excuse of a chicken," Cozad said.
He also believes it violates his Fifth Amendment rights.
"It violates the Fifth Amendment. Our animals are our property, just like the cattle are the property of the cattleman. They're passing a law here that is the equivalent of saying it's illegal to own and possess your beef cattle if you intend to slaughter your beef cattle because the job of the government is to protect the cattle from the cattle rancher," Cozad said.
Cozad also said according to the Fifth Amendment, the law must include compensation for their property if it's destroyed or confiscated which he says the gamecocks are, but he said the Oklahoma law does not require him to be compensated for his gamecocks.
However as addressed in Edmondson v. Pearce, private property can be taken without compensation, but it can't be taken for public use.
Cozad also said the law violates his Eighth Amendment right, which there is no mention of in Edmondson v. Pearce.
"Cruel and unusual punishment. We're supposed to be protected from our government in cruel and unusual punishment. Who is another man to punish me over chickens that I own," Cozad said.
Cozad said his strong feelings about the law, and whether or not it's constitutional, are shared by many others. He says over the last nine years, he's had countless meetings with our legislators in an attempt to repeal the law.
"The Republican legislators I've spoken to off camera, out of the public, they've told me privately they support what I'm saying, they agree with what I'm saying, they agree the law is unconstitutional, but they don't have the guts to uphold their oath to defend The Constitution," Cozad said.
Many of the lawyers 7NEWS spoke with about this story simply said they did not know much about the cockfighting laws and the merits of Cozad's arguments in relation to it.
As for Cozad, he said he will continue to fight for what he believes and will not stop until he feels The Constitution is being upheld and his rights are respected.