From the LA Times blogs:
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals plans Wednesday to sue Sea World for allegedly violating the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — which bans slavery — by keeping orcas at parks in San Diego and Orlando, Fla., organization officials said Tuesday.
The lawsuit, set to be filed in San Diego federal court, is considered the first of its kind and, if successful, would represent a large enhancement of the animal-rights movement. Part of the lawsuit asserts that it is illegal to artificially inseminate the females and then take away their babies.
Sea World officials dismissed the lawsuit as a publicity stunt. PETA routinely pickets the park on Mission Bay.
The lawsuit seeks the release of three orcas (also called killer whales) from San Diego and two at Orlando. “All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies,” said PETA President Ingred Newkirk.
PETA officials note that the 13th Amendment prohibits slavery but does appear to limit the ban only to human beings. “Slavery is slavery,” said PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr.
Kasatka, Corky and Ulises are at Sea World San Diego, Tilikum and Katina at Orlando. Tilikum, a six-ton male, grabbed a trainer in February 2010 and dragged her to the bottom, where she drowned.
In a statement, Sea World said that extending constitutional rights to killer whales “is baseless and in many ways offensive” and that “there is no higher priority than the welfare of the animals entrusted to our care.”
My response: Are you effin’ kiddin’ me? (I didn’t use “effin’”– but you get the idea.)
I’m not a fan of keeping orcas or other cetaceans in captivity, but using the 13th amendment for this purpose is a dangerous precedent.
Allowing orcas to sue under those auspices would essentially create constitutional rights for animals without ever having a vote on it or passing any legislation.
Judicial activism happens all the time– on both sides. For example, it was reinterpretation of the 14th amendment, which gave full citizenship rights to African American men, that gave corporations full citizenship rights in the US Supreme Court Decision known as Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company (1886).
But I’d be very much surprised if this particular case went anywhere.
My guess is the orca slavery suit will be thrown out.
But you never know for sure.
PETA, I’m sure, is just doing this for propaganda purposes.
But it’s terrible waste of our federal court system just so they can use it for publicity.
It also takes away from the possibility of having a ration discussion about orcas in captivity.
When you do stupid things for attention, no one is going to take your arguments seriously.
Hear that, Herman Cain?