Challenge to animal protest law turned down by court in US
Fri, 22 March 2013
Category: Media: conferences and press
A lawsuit challenging a federal law that animal rights activists say makes them afraid to participate in public protests has been thrown out by a judge who said the activists have not shown that the law chills their First Amendment rights.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro dismissed a challenge brought by five people who said the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act made them fearful of prosecution because it prohibits anyone from intentionally causing the loss of personal property of animal-related businesses or laboratories. Some activists think personal property can include a loss of profits, meaning that a fur protester who persuades a consumer not to shop at a particular store could be prosecuted. The law also can be used to prosecute anyone who "intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily injury" through threats, vandalism, harassment or intimidation." Tauro ruled Monday that the protesters had described plans to participate in activities that are not prohibited under the law and had failed to show "an objectively reasonable chill on their First Amendment rights." The judge granted a request by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to dismiss the lawsuit.