Human Exceptionalism

Punish Chimp Personhood Lawyers

I wrote recently of the cases of chimps suing for habeas corpus. Judges have decided that these animals will not be declared “persons”–for now–throwing the cases out of court.

But it is worrisome, and a sign of our topsy-turvy times, how respectfully two jurists apparently took the cases. Whereas one judge properly sniffed his dismissal via a court clerk, two listened carefully. From the Science Insider story:

Fulton County Supreme Court Justice Joseph Sise and Niagara County Supreme Court Justice Ralph Boniello both allowed NhRP lawyers to make oral arguments in the courtroom. “As an animal lover, I appreciate your work,” said Sise, who handled the case of a chimpanzee named Tommy living in cage on his owner’s property in Gloversville, according to an NhRP press release. The group made “a very strong argument,” Sise said, according to the release, but he did not agree that habeas corpus applied to chimpanzees.

Boniello, who oversaw the case of a chimp named Kiko living on his owner’s property in Niagara Falls, said he did not want to be the first “to make that leap of faith” equating chimpanzees with human beings.

As I stated in my longer piece, it just takes one judge wanting to make the history books and eager to take that leap of faith.

The only way to deter these cases is for the filers to be punished by court sanctions. If organizations such as the Nonhuman Rights Project and PETA know they can file case, after case, after case–the current advocacy strategy–secure in the knowledge that even though legally frivolous they will face no consequences, then they will keep hunting for that first useful judicial tool.

And remember: These cases are not about stopping abuse or neglectful treatment of the chimps and other animals. Proof: Tommy the chimp remains kept in a lonely cage! 

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