Five animal rights activists, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights have filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts challenging the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, saying the controversial business protection law has the potential to criminalize many forms of protest that are protected by the First Amendment.
“We’re filing a federal lawsuit in Massachusetts on behalf of five activists who have devoted years of their lives to animal rights advocacy. We are challenging the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act as unconstitutional, in violation of the First Amendment” as well as the constitutional right to due process, said Rachel Meerpol, a staff attorney at the center.
Ryan Shapiro, a longtime animal rights activist from Cambridge who is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit told the Associated Press that he no longer conducts undercover filmed investigations of animal treatment on factory farms because he is concerned about possible prosecution.
“One of the ways the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act silences free speech is that if one obtains that footage and then brings that footage to the public about how animals are suffering on factory farms, it might affect the profits of that farm,” Shapiro said. “As a result, simply bringing that information to the public and trying to educate individuals is now prosecutable as a terrorist act under the law.”
Image Source: KOMUnews/Flickr