Jurist, the legal news service, discusses why the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is unconstitutional. Guest commentary by Will Potter.
Huntingdon Life Sciences has labs in New Jersey and England, and five undercover investigations have shown workers punching beagle puppies in the face, dissecting live monkeys and falsifying scientific data. Activists with Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an international organization, set out to close the lab using tactics similar to the anti-apartheid movement: they pressured business associated with the lab to sever ties, in what the government has called “tertiary targeting.”
The “terrorist” campaign of the SHAC 7 didn’t involve anthrax, pipe bombs, or a plot to hijack an airplane. They ran a website. On that website, they posted news about the campaign — legal actions like protests and illegal actions like stealing animals from labs — and unabashedly supported all of it. Since the federal government has largely been unable catch groups like the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front, prosecutors went after lawful activists in the spotlight. (For a detailed look at the case: “The World Takes? How corporations and politicians turned animal rights activists into terrorists.”)
The SHAC 7 is a landmark First Amendment case that will test how far the government can push “terrorism” rhetoric in order to pursue a political agenda and silence speech.. The case was heard before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and it is now pending before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Here are some recent articles about the SHAC 7: