According to the BBC, there is a case pending in the United States Court for the Southern District of California in which PETA has named 5 killer whales as plaintiffs. PETA has it that killer whales have Thirteenth Amendment rights, which SeaWorld is violating.
Apparently, Judge Miller held oral arguments on … well, something. The article doesn’t make it clear but I suspect it was our old friend the 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).
While I suppose that the text of the Thirteenth Amendment does not explicitly limit its application to persons and not animals, I don’t expect this case to go anywhere. It has only a tiny bit more chance of success than trying to sue on behalf of a tree.
And we’ve seen how well trees fair as plaintiffs. Judge Gills put it nicely in verse:
We thought that we would never see
A suit to compensate a tree.
A suit whose claim in tort is prest
Upon a mangled tree’s behest;
A tree whose battered trunk was prest
Against a Chevy’s crumpled crest;
A tree that faces each new day
With bark and limb in disarray;
A tree that may forever bear
A lasting need for tender care.
Flora lovers though we three,
We must uphold the court’s decree.
Fisher v. Lowe, 333 N.W.2d 67, 67 (Mich. Ct. App. 1983) (footnote omitted).