People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is taking to America’s courts to give animals legal “rights.” You might remember the utterly frivolous lawsuit filed by PETA against Sea World, which argued that the park’s famed killer whales were in fact “slaves” under the 13th Amendment. A federal judge in California held a hearing in that case yesterday, and reports suggested he was rightly skeptical of PETA’s arguments. Experts predict PETA will fail, but winning isn’t entirely the point: PETA just wants news hits, and it has won plenty of them.
And elsewhere, PETA just lost a (legitimate) case in a Florida court. A former police officer sued PETA, claiming the group violated a confidentiality agreement. A jury found that that breach cost the officer his job, and awarded the ex-cop $155,000. PETA can’t seem to win in the court of public opinion—and apparently it isn’t doing so well in real courts, either.
Should we gloat? Sure—but we should also recognize that in the long run, PETA wants cows to have legal standing to sue ranchers, dogs to have standing to sue their owners, and mice to have standing to sue AIDS researchers. If PETA wins, this will be a lucrative racket for PETA’s legal staff, but a bad prospect for those of us who don’t believe that “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.”
Scarily, as our Executive Director Rick Berman told CNN’s Global Public Square blog last week, these radicals actually have a lot more backing than you might think:
While this is the next generation, the animal rights philosophy has already manifested itself in positions of power. Cass Sunstein, who runs the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has written that animals should be given standing to sue humans in court (presumably with taxpayer funds for court-appointed lawyers).
“[A]nimals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives, to prevent violations of current law,” Sunstein has written. “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.”
The American people don’t want to give PETA lawyers tax money to “represent” Bessie in ruining Old MacDonald, and they certainly don’t think that whales are slaves. Hopefully, the federal judiciary has more sense than at least one high-ranking federal bureaucrat and will treat the Sea World suit as the joke that it is.