Anorak News | Chimpanzees sue for habeas corpus because animals are people too

Chimpanzees sue for habeas corpus because animals are people too

by | 28th, May 2015

Does human law apply to chimpanzees? Hercules and Leo, two chimps living at Stony Brook University, are having their day in a NY State court:

Its lawyers said that personhood rights have already been applied to corporations, rivers and ships. If chimps are also eligible, they are then eligible for the writ of habeas corpus, which gives those who believe they are unlawfully detained or imprisoned the right to appear in court.

During the hearing, Nonhuman Rights Project’s president and animal-rights lawyerSteven Wise drew parallels to past court cases over the rights of slaves, prisoners and Native Americans.

Assistant Attorney General Christopher Coulston said these cases didn’t apply.

“There is simply no precedent anywhere of a nonhuman animal receiving the kinds of rights they’re talking about,” Mr. Coulston said.

But there is an understanding that law evolves, said New York Supreme Court JusticeBarbara Jaffe, based on scientific discoveries and social mores.

“Witness marital rights,” she said. “Isn’t it incumbent upon the judiciary to at least consider whether a class of beings may be granted a right or something short of a right, under the habeas statute?”

In a brief filed Friday, the attorney general’s office wrote that current animal-rights laws are sufficient, and to grant chimps additional rights was a slippery slope.

To extend the writ of habeas corpus “could set a precedent for the release of other animals held in captivity, whether housed at a zoo, in an educational institution, on a farm, or owned as a domesticated pet,” the brief reads.

Where does human law end? You might argue it ends with humans. But the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) says chimps are people, too, as are elephants, dolphins, whales and ticks.  In December 2014, an Argentine court recently granted a habeas corpus petition and ordered the release of an orangutan being “detained” in a zoo.

Can you dog sue you for beng detained in your home or a kennel, or your goldfish be upset by the tank? Animal abuse is an awful thing.  But the animals are not humans. They are animals. Whether or not all lawyers are human is an open debate…


Posted: 28th, May 2015 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink