According to BBC News, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are suing SeaWorld for the mistreatment of its Orca Whales. The five killer whales at SeaWorld have been named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit which argues that “animals deserve the same constitutional protection from slavery as humans.”
SeaWorld’s legal team says this is a waste of time and resources.
According to the article, the marine park’s lawyer, Theodore Shaw, told the court in San Diego: “Neither orcas nor any other animal were included in the ‘We the people’… when the Constitution was adopted.”
While this is a valid argument, I would like to mention that Blacks, Native Americans, Asians, women etc (basically anyone that was not a white, upper/middle class male) were not included in the “We the people” when the U.S. was founded. Over time these groups of people have become included in the “we the people” by fighting for their rights.
Is it really so different from what PETA is doing? They are fighting for the rights of a group that is ignored and mistreated.
PETA is using the 13th amendment, which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, as the basis for their lawsuit.
Jeffrey Kerr, the lawyer representing the five whales, told BBC: “For the first time in our nation’s history, a federal court heard arguments as to whether living, breathing, feeling beings have rights and can be enslaved simply because they happen to not have been born human.”
According to the article, the US District Judge Jeffrey Miller was concerned about whether animals could be represented as plaintiffs in a lawsuit. However, Miller has not made a decision yet. A ruling will be made at a later date.
I definitely agree that animals deserve rights. They are living, breathing creatures that can be hurt, mistreated and abused. Many animals are injured, malnourished or die at the hands of their owner. For this reason animals deserve protection under the law. For animals that are displayed in zoos or parks, like SeaWorld, they do not choose to live in the cages or perform tricks. They are forced into doing it.
I must admit, I am little skeptical about using the 13th Amendment as the basis for their argument, just because I am unsure whether slavery is too strong a term to use. Though, I cannot think of a more fitting law or term that would work in its place. Either way, I definitely understand and agree with fighting for animals rights under the law.