PETA suing SeaWorld, using 13th amendment as its argument

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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.


About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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One Response to PETA suing SeaWorld, using 13th amendment as its argument

  1. Pingback: The Missing 13th Amendment, by David Dodge (1991) « Random Ascii Files

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