In what
will now stand as the case that future generations will look
back on as the one that broke legal ground for animals, captive orcas were
represented in a U.S. federal court in a lawsuit that PETA filed against SeaWorld seeking to establish that five wild-caught orcas deserved protection under the
Constitution’s 13th Amendment, which prohibits slavery. U.S. District Judge
Jeffrey Miller was the first judge in U.S. history to listen to arguments and
give careful consideration to the idea that the definition of slavery does not
exclude any species. Yesterday, Judge
Miller ruled that the 13th Amendment doesn’t apply to nonhumans.

There
is no question that SeaWorld enslaves animals even though the judge in this
case didn’t see the 13th Amendment as the remedy to that. Women, children, and
racial and ethnic minorities were once denied fundamental constitutional rights
that are now self-evident, and that day will certainly come for the orcas and
all the other animals enslaved for human amusement.

This historic first
case for the orcas’ right to be free under the 13th Amendment is one
more step toward the inevitable day when all animals will be free from
enslavement for human entertainment. Judge Miller’s opinion does not change the
fact that the orcas who once lived naturally, wild and free, are today kept as slaves by SeaWorld.
PETA will continue to pursue every available avenue to fight for these animals.

Legal Experts
Weigh In

As
Harvard law professor and constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe described the unprecedented lawsuit, “Some may even be
offended by the implied comparison of human slavery with the experience of
non-humans who are captured in the wild and kept in conditions that are
unnatural for the species. But that reaction would overlook both what we have
in common with some other species and the many respects in which the
Constitution is an essentially aspirational document. Its bold language
and broadly expressed principles offer themselves to each generation as we
struggle to define our national values in an ever-changing world. Ours is a
vibrant Constitution, more than capable of warding off past evils while also
speaking to circumstances in which we come to recognize that familiar
principles apply in ways previously unforeseen. So it seems to me no abuse of
the Constitution to invoke it on behalf of non-human animals cruelly confined
for purposes of involuntary servitude.”

Caption: Tilikum,
pictured above, has a collapsed dorsal fin,
which only occurs in captivity.
milan.bores | cc by 2.0

You can make a
difference right now by refusing to buy a ticket to SeaWorld and by talking to parents and grandparents about the miserable existence that animals
who live and die in barren, cramped cement tanks endure.

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Article source: PETA Files

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