Last week, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit against the Department of Justice on behalf of six animal advocates seeking to overturn the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Among those activists is longtime friend of the sanctuary Sarahjane Blum. We feel very proud of her and the co-plaintiffs in Blum v Holder (as well as thankful to CCR) for stepping forward in the face of fear to challenge the law that brands as a “terrorist” any of us who succeed in reducing the profits of industries that exploit animals, even if we do so simply by showing and speaking the truth about their practices.
Sarahjane’s documentation of the atrocities inherent in foie gras production not only sickened potential consumers of that “delicacy” but also helped to spark the passage of a California law banning foie gras production in that state. Sarahjane would like to talk about foie gras in her new home of Minnesota, which has become a center of foie gras production, but—given her successful record of actually reducing demand for foie gras and shutting down foie gras factories—legitimately fears that to do so now, after the passage of AETA, might result in being jailed as a terrorist.
Under AETA, any action that causes any harm to any “animal enterprise” is terrorism. Sarahjane’s co-plaintiffs include a rescuer of rabbits who used to attend peaceful anti-fur demonstrations but now no longer does so, due to a well-founded fear that participation in a protest might lead to a charge of terrorism if a fur store made fewer sales or hired an extra security guard that day. Under AETA, even striking union members might be terrorists, if a factory or store they picket happens to make or sell animal products. Even Michelle Obama might be a terrorist if she succeeds in convincing kids to snack on carrots.
What can you do to help? Urge Barack Obama to direct the Department of Justice not to defend AETA. There’s precedent for this. Back in February of 2011, after an achingly long period of reflection, Obama concluded that the Defense of Marriage Act (DoMA) was not constitutional. He thereby directed the Department of Justice not to expend its resources defending DoMA against court challenges.
Obama could and should do the same for AETA.
You can send email to the White House here. Or you can call or write a real letter. Either way, make your message brief to-the-point. We know, from DoMA, that Obama likes to make up his own mind and is not easily swayed by persuasive argumentation. We know that AETA really is unjust and unjustifiable. As a former teacher of constitutional law, Obama will see that if he takes the time to read and think about it. Encourage him to do that.