Skooter reporting 02/09/12
A San Diego federal judge shelved an extraordinary lawsuit seeking to grant constitutional protection against slavery to killer whales or orcas that perform at SeaWorld parks, arguing that the 13th amendment applies only to humans.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller became the first judge in U.S. history to entertain debates in court over the possibility of granting constitutional rights to an animal species. The judge terminated the case in two days proceeding.
Miller rules that "As `slavery' and `involuntary servitude' are uniquely human activities, as those terms have been historically and contemporaneously applied, there is simply no basis to construe the Thirteenth Amendment as applying to non-humans."
The lawsuit was filed in October by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) naming five whales as plaintiffs. PETA claims the wild-captured orcas are enslaved by SeaWorld because they are confined in concrete tanks against their will and forced to perform in shows at its parks in San Diego and Orlando, Fla.
SeaWorld reacted calling the lawsuit as baseless and a waste of time and money. The lawsuit opened up an interesting debate about the development of animal rights, legal experts said. SeaWorld said that it didn’t mistreat the animals and in fact, its parks have advocated wildlife conservation efforts. It also claims that SeaWorld has rescued injured orcas in the wild.
PETA is known for its aggressive anti-fur and pro-vegan campaigns to engage the court of public opinion.