HSUS Loves Legal Monkey Business

GavelRecently, the Humane Society of the United States joined the chorus of animal-rights zealots celebrating a Manhattan Supreme Court Justice’s decision to sign on to court papers submitted on behalf of the Nonhuman Rights Project. The Nonhuman Rights Project, led by former HSUS employee Natalie Prosin, filed a “Writ of Habeas Corpus” petition on behalf of two chimpanzees that are used for scientific research at Stony Brook University. Traditionally habeas corpus petitions are filed in order to relieve human “detainees” from “unlawful imprisonment,” so the animal rights cabal went bananas, when the court hinted they would accept their attempt to “humanize” the apes.

HSUS litigator Jonathan Lovvorn—you might remember him as a defendant in a racketeering lawsuit that was settled last year—called the judge’s willingness to hear the case “a big step forward” and “a victory.” The Nonhuman Rights Project went as far as to issue a hyperbolized press statement claiming that the judge had “implicitly determined that (the chimpanzees) are ‘persons.’” The judge, who signed on to the papers simply to allow a hearing for the case, was reportedly taken aback by the exaggerated press statement and issued an amended order that crossed out the words “Writ of Habeas Corpus” on the court papers.

This lawsuit is a perfect illustration of how radical the animal-rights movement has become. Even in cases where animals are being used for studies that could potentially yield huge medical benefits for humans, groups like the Nonhuman Rights Project fight tooth and nail against it. But when you examine the potential motives of the extreme animal-rights organizations, the absurdity of the lawsuit becomes easier to understand.

And to be clear—this is different from animal welfare laws. What these animal activists want is something far more radical and self-serving.

If the animal-rights fringe ever succeeded in establishing “standing” in court for animals, that would mean animals would have access to the court system. Since a fish or a cow can’t file the paperwork on its own, the animal would need a representative to speak on its behalf. HSUS and the Nonhuman Rights Project would no doubt happily provide the animal-rights lawyers to shutter zoos, aquariums, research facilities, and farms. Just read a little about how “animal lawyers” work in Switzerland to get an idea of how zany and frivolous this push can become.

In fact, HSUS discussed legal “rights” for animals in a previous fundraising mailer:

Access to the courts is such a powerful right and would pose so revolutionary a threat to the established order that it will probably be among the last of animal rights to be recognized, requiring statutory, even constitutional, changes. […]

The critical goal [is] getting litigation into a format where someone with ready access to the judicial system is representing the animal and its interests and only the animal and its interests.

Despite the best efforts of the animal-rights fringe, obtaining legal standing for animals has proven elusive. After the judge crossed out “Writ of Habeas Corpus” from the petition, the Nonhuman Rights Project issued a clarifying statement saying, “the court believes at minimum that the chimpanzees could be possibly legal persons…without deciding that they are.” Right. Meaning the judge may well just fling legal scat at NhRP for wasting the court’s time with such a bogus theory.

Looks like the HSUS and their buddies at PETA popped the cork a little soon. HumaneWatch will be keeping an eye on the May 27th hearing.