Standing for Animals
University of Chicago Law School, Public Law and Legal Theory Working Paper No. 06
39 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 1999
Date Written: November 1999
From the legal point of view, there is nothing at all new or unfamiliar in the idea of "animal rights;" on the contrary, it is entirely clear that animals have legal rights. Indeed, the rise of legal rights for animals has been one of the most distinctive features of the last thirty years of federal statutory law. An investigation of the question of standing helps show that the real issues involve problems of enforcement and scope. Human beings often do and should have standing to protect animal rights; animals lack such standing, but only because Congress has failed to give them standing. Animal welfare statutes should be amended to grant a private cause of action, to human beings and animals alike, against those who violate them, so as to allow private claimants to supplement agency enforcement efforts. This modest step could do a great deal to prevent the unjustified suffering of animals.
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