NY High Court Ponders Protection of Animals, But Provides No Help | ANIMAL RIGHTS UPDATE

NY High Court Ponders Protection of Animals, But Provides No Help | ANIMAL RIGHTS UPDATE

In this week’s case, the Court of Appeals raised a moral question rather than a legal one.

The Nonhuman Rights Project sued in court to free Tommy and Kiko, two captive chimpanzees. They lost and appealed, and lost again. The reason provided by the lower courts was that Tommy and Kiko are not people, so they were not entitled to, what is called, habeas corpus relief — a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention. The Court of Appeals was asked for permission to argue the case there, but that request was declined. Tommy and Kiko, legally, now have nowhere else to turn to.

But one of the Judge’s wrote this rhetorical question:

“Does an intelligent nonhuman animal who thinks and plans and appreciates life as human beings do have the right to the protection of the law against arbitrary cruelties and enforced detentions visited on him or her?”

(It is interesting how Judge Fahey chose to use the relative pronoun “WHO” when referring to Tom and Kiko. Grammatically, the relative pronoun “WHO” is used strictly for a PERSON or PEOPLE.).

Chimpanzees have advanced cognitive abilities, including being able to remember the past and plan for the future, the capacities of self-awareness and self-control, and the ability to communicate through sign language. Chimpanzees make tools to catch insects; they recognize themselves in mirrors, photographs, and television images; they imitate others; they exhibit compassion and depression when a community member dies; they even display a sense of humor.

Court of Appeals Judge Fahey, concluded his opinion with this: “The issue whether a nonhuman animal has a fundamental right to liberty protected by the writ of habeas corpus is profound and far-reaching. It speaks to our relationship with all the life around us. Ultimately, we will not be able to ignore it. While it may be arguable that a chimpanzee is not a “person,” there is no doubt that it is not merely a thing.”

Here is the case: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/reporter/3dseries/2018/2018_03309.htm

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