As animal litigation and legislation continue to become more prevalent in the United States, animal advocates are bumping up against constitutional law issues. How can animals or animal advocates achieve standing in the courts? What is the cost/benefit analysis of adding a preemption clause in federal animal protection legislation? How do the limits on our right to free speech both help and harm animals? Why are the animals batting zero in the Supreme Court? Featuring practitioners and professors from around the country, this exchange of ideas, strategies, and experiences promises to be an engaging dialogue you won’t want to miss.
In some instances, too much freedom under the First Amendment is potentially detrimental to animals, as illustrated through United States v. Stevens and the religious slaughter exemption. In other instances, limits on First Amendment Freedoms are seemingly targeted to impede protections for animals, as witnessed with the state “Ag Gag” laws and the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Where do we draw the line and what is Constitutional?
Perhaps the largest obstacle for animals and animal advocates in the courtroom is achieving standing. In recent months, animals have had some victories and some disappointments. The Oregon Court of Appeals just held that non-human animals are crime victims (in the context of merger); but yet, a federal district court judge ruled that a non-human animal could never be enslaved under the 13th Amendment. How can animal advocates use existing animal, environmental, consumer protection, and other laws and human protections to speak out for animals? Or should the animals themselves be the plaintiffs?
The largest US-based food service company recently announced that it would eliminate gestation crates from its pork supply chain by 2017. “Pink slime” beef production factories shut down this year after public outcry. In the wake of news that Americans are beginning to see that change in the food industry is necessary for not only the animals, but our health, too, what should be our legislative goals? The “Hen Bill” would excitingly be the first federal law to protect the raising of a farmed animal; but given the risky effects of preemption as evidenced by National Meat Association v. Harris, are the “costs” of the bill too high?