Under the Dome

Judge allows PETA’s ‘Possum Drop’ suit to continue

A Wake County superior court judge on Monday ruled that an animal welfare organization’s lawsuit against North Carolina over the New Year’s Eve “Possum Drop” can proceed.

Judge Bryan Collins declined the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alleged legitimate claims, including that the law allowing the event serves no legitimate government purpose. Collins said permitting otherwise illegal activity — capturing an opossum and lowering it in a plexiglass box at midnight — raises an equal protection argument.

The judge wrote “providing a financial benefit to a select group of businesses that happened to be favored by Rep. (Roger) West (a Republican who represents Clay County where the Brasstown event is held) does not constitute a legitimate government purpose. It is the essence of impermissible economic protectionism.”

Collins also found that the legal action raises the inference that the law was born of animosity toward PETA. The "purpose to discriminate and silence animal welfare groups in an effort to protect a powerful industry cannot justify the passage of' a discriminatory law,” he wrote.

The next step in the long-running battle between PETA and the organizer and supporters of the Possum Drop is a Dec. 11 hearing on the organization’s motion for a preliminary injunction.