John A. Steakely

Attorney John Steakley is a 1996 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law. He began his career as the Special Prosecutor for Drug Crimes for a multi-county, multi-agency drug task force in Tennessee, where he represented the State of Tennessee in thousands of felony and misdemeanor cases in a 5-county judicial district.

Hemingway's Cats Are A Federal Matter

Hemingway's Cats Are A Federal Matter

The federal government has long used the Commerce Clause of the US Constitution to regulate pretty much anything it wanted to regulate.  The theory goes that since the federal government has the power to regulate commerce between the states, anything affecting that commerce is also subject to federal regulation.  A farmer growing his own corn to feed his pigs is a federal matter, they say, because that farmer won't be buying his corn from another state.  Since that affects commerce, the feds can regulate it.

In a great example of just how far this power goes, a federal court has ruled that the feline descendants of Ernest Hemingway's cats living on the grounds of his former home in Key West, FL (about as far as one can get from any other state in the union) are subject to federal regulation.

First, some background.  Hemingway lived in a huge house in Key West surrounded by dozens of his "polydactyl" (extra toes) cats.  The home is now a museum and descendants of "Papa" Hemingway's feline friends still roam the grounds and the home. 

Apparently, some do-gooder complained to the USDA about the cats and the USDA got involved.  As someone who has toured the grounds several times, I can attest that those cats are pampered and protected like few others.

Despite the adverse holding, the court admitted some sympathy with the museum’s situation. “We appreciate the museum’s somewhat unique situation, and we sympathize with its frustration,” the court said. “Nevertheless, it is not the court’s role to evaluate the wisdom of federal regulations implemented according to the powers constitutionally vested in Congress.”

Ask not for whom the bell tolls.  The bell tolls for our freedoms.


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