Sunday, February 5, 2012

Fighting the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

I posted last week about the harassment and intimidation of animal rights and environmental activists and writers under the banner of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, focusing on the case of author and journalist Will Potter. Here’s a great interview with Potter about his story and the AETA context:

And here’s a short piece by Potter about it in Jurist.* He concludes:
Regardless of how one feels about animal rights or animal rights activists, the targeting of political activists as "terrorists" because they cause a loss of corporate profits sets a dangerous precedent. Occupy Wall Street, for example, clearly is focused on challenging corporate power and has utilized a diversity of tactics currently classified as "animal enterprise terrorism," including non-violent civil disobedience and home demonstrations. If this legislation is not overturned, it will be the blueprint for targeting all protesters that pose a threat to business as usual.
As Potter discusses, the AETA is being challenged in court by the Center for Constitutional Rights. The CCR describes Blum v. Holder:
Blum v. Holder is a facial challenge to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA.) Passed by Congress in November 2006, the AETA is aimed at suppressing speech and advocacy surrounding certain industries by criminalizing First Amendment-protected activities such as protests, boycotts, picketing and whistle-blowing. The statute punishes anyone found to have caused the loss of property or profits by a business or other institution that uses or sells animals (or animal products), or has “a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise.”

Pushed through Congress by a powerful lobby of pharmaceutical corporations and groups like the Fur Commission USA and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the AETA is an unconstitutional law because it criminalizes a broad swath of protected First Amendment activities and is so unclear as to fail to give people notice of whether or not their conduct is lawful.

The Blum plaintiffs are animal rights activists from across the country who are chilled from continuing their lawful and important advocacy work based on the broad reach of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act.
I’ll be following the case here.

*(in which he quotes the law’s supporters absurdly and sickeningly equating it to hate crimes legislation)

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