Do whales deserve constitutional protection against slavery? On February 8, a federal judge said ‘no,’ stopping a historic case filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals against SeaWorld for violating the 13th Amendment on slavery. Five orcas were listed as the plaintiffs.
PETA filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in San Diego last October, complaining that the whales “were forcibly taken from their families and natural habitats, are held captive at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld Orlando, denied everything that is natural to them, subjected to artificial insemination or sperm collection to breed performers for Defendants’ shows, and forced to perform, all for Defendants’ profit. As such, Plaintiffs are held in slavery and involuntary servitude.” PETA went on to request that the whales be freed and released to a habitat better suited to their needs.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller dismissed the case, writing in his ruling that “the only reasonable interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to non-persons such as orcas.”
Before the ruling, PETA’s attorney Jeffrey Kerr told HuffPost that the animal rights group’s argument was based on the belief that “slavery doesn’t depend upon the species of the slave, any more than it depends upon the race, gender or ethnicity of the slave. SeaWorld’s attempts to deny [orcas] the protection solely based on their species is the same kind of prejudice used to justify any enslavement. And prejudice should not be what determines constitutional rights in this country … Because they can suffer from the prohibitive conduct of being enslaved, the 13th Amendment protection against that conduct should be extended to them.”
Thursday, February 9, 2012
PETA's Orca Lawsuit Dismissed by Federal Judge
Well, it's still historic and precedent-setting. Here's hoping we see more of these legal challenges. Full story posted on Global Animal and from the Huffington Post.