Human Responsibility, Not Legal Personhood, for Nonhuman Animals
Engage, Vol. 16, Iss. 2, 2015
13 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2016
Date Written: August 28, 2015
Three lawsuits filed in New York in late 2013 assert that chimpanzees should be declared legal persons for purposes of seeking a common law writ of habeas corpus: The Nonhuman Rights Project v. Lavery, The Nonhuman Rights Project v. Presti, and The Nonhuman Rights Project v. Stanley. This paper outlines a number of concerns about the legal personhood arguments asserted in the lawsuits. Courts and legislatures should focus on human legal accountability for responsible treatment of nonhuman animals rather than radically restructuring our legal system to make them legal persons. Evolving societal values require evolution of our laws and enforcement of laws to provide more protections to nonhuman animals, and while this evolution should be applauded, it should be processed within an animal welfare paradigm rather than within an animal personhood paradigm.
Keywords: Nonhuman Animals, Legal Personhood, Habeas Corpus, Chimpanzees, Cognitive Impairment
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