Judge Upholds Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act
Tue, 10 March 2015
On Wednesday 4th March, Judge Amy St. Eve upheld the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) at the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
In August 2013, two thousand mink were set free from a breeding farm in Morris, Illinois. Tyler Lang (then 25) and Kevin Olliff (then 27) were indicted on federal charges of damaging and interfering with the operation of the mink farm under AETA. When indicted, Olliff had already been arrested and was serving a prison sentence for possession of burglary tools in connection to previous mink-liberation activities.
Both men pleaded not guilty to the new charges and set about challenging the constitutionality of AETA. They claimed that AETA effectively criminalised free speech (sacrosanct under the US First Amendment)
Judge St Eve was quoted saying:
“AETA is directed at property damage, threats, and violence toward animal enterprise” and that the law’s history and rules of construction “unambiguously indicate that Congress did not intend for the AETA to infringe upon protected First Amendment speech.”
“AETA was enacted by Congress in 2006 in response to threats and violence towards individuals involved in research and since its enactment, the frequency and severity of illegal actions in the U.S. has decreased significantly.”