Barack Obama’s pick for “regulatory czar,” Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein, may be the incoming president’s most popular appointment so far. Judging from his resume — best-selling author, “pre-eminent legal scholar of our time,” and an endorsement from The Wall Street Journal — we can almost understand why. Almost. Because as we’re telling the media today, there’s one troubling portion of the new Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) Administrator’s C.V. that has seems to have flown under everyone’s radar: Cass Sunstein is a radical animal rights activist.

Don’t believe us? Sunstein has made no secret of his devotion to the cause of establishing legal “rights” for livestock, wildlife, and pets. “[T]here should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, scientific experiments, and agriculture,” Sunstein wrote in a 2002 working paper while at the University of Chicago Law school.

“Extensive regulation of the use of animals.” That's PETA-speak for using government to get everything PETA and the Humane Society of the United States can't get through gentle pressure or not-so-gentle coercion. Not exactly the kind of thing American ranchers, restaurateurs, hunters, and biomedical researchers (to say nothing of ordinary consumers) would like to hear from their next “regulatory czar.”

A version of the same paper also appeared as the introduction to Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions, a 2004 book that Sunstein co-edited with then-girlfriend Martha Nussbaum. In that book, Sunstein set out an ambitious plan to give animals the legal “right” to file lawsuits. We're not joking:

“[A]nimals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives, to prevent violations of current law … Any animals that are entitled to bring suit would be represented by (human) counsel, who would owe guardian like obligations and make decisions, subject to those obligations, on their clients’ behalf.”

It doesn't end there. Sunstein delivered a keynote speech at Harvard University’s 2007 “Facing Animals” conference. (Click here to watch the video; his speech starts around 39:00.) Keep in mind that as OIRA Administrator, Sunstein will have the political authority to implement a massive federal government overhaul. Consider this tidbit:

“We ought to ban hunting, I suggest, if there isn’t a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law. It’s time now.”

Sunstein also argued in favor of “eliminating current practices such as greyhound racing, cosmetic testing, and meat eating, most controversially.”

He concluded his Harvard speech by expressing his “more ambitious animating concern” that the current treatment of livestock and other animals should be considered “a form of unconscionable barbarity not the same as, but in many ways morally akin to, slavery and mass extermination of human beings.” Sound familiar?

As the individual about to assume “the most important position that Americans know nothing about,” Sunstein owes the public an honest appraisal of his animal rights goals before taking office. Will the next four years be a dream-come-true for anti-meat, anti-hunting, and anti-everything-else radicals? Time will tell. For now, meat lovers might want to stock their freezers.