The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Sheri Flannery


Orcas are not afforded any relief under the Thirteenth Amendment. Animal rights advocates, namely People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), alleged animals have the right to be free from slavery and involuntary servitude as guaranteed by the Thirteenth Amendment. Although the Thirteenth Amendment has been extended beyond African slavery, its protections have never been granted to anything other than human beings. The United States Supreme Court’s examination and interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment concluded that animals are not afforded such protections under this amendment. The Court reasoned that the Thirteenth Amendment only applied to humans and not animals. To presume otherwise is an insult to the framer’s intent. Despite increased public awareness of animal rights in our country, the exploitation of animals is still widespread. Although historically the laws protecting animals were specifically tailored to protect their commercial value due to society’s overall disinterest in animal welfare, this body of law has greatly evolved with the passing of anti-cruelty statutes protecting animals from mistreatment. Two types of animal activists have emerged in defense of animals: welfare advocates and animal rights proponents. Welfare advocates support laws that secure the humane treatment of animals, yet recognize it is still permissible for animals to be used for human benefit. Contrarily, animal rights proponents advocate against all human “use” of animals, arguing that animals are entitled to their own rights which are not to be interfered with or denied by humans. Nonetheless, there must be a balance between the two. And ultimately, the most effective way to combat animal cruelty is to enact and enforce animal welfare laws.

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St. Mary's University School of Law



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Animal Law Commons