Today, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffee ruled against a writ of habeas corpus for chimpanzees.
The case, Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) v. Stanley, brought forward by animal rights lawyer Stephen Wise and the NhRP, sought to establish legal rights on behalf of two chimpanzees currently located at Stony Brook University. Wise and the NhRP had argued that these animals were denied their basic legal rights, going so far as to compare them to slaves and prisoners.
In her decision, Justice Jaffee defined "persons" as those who have "rights, duties, and obligations" and noted that, "Animals, including chimpanzees and other highly intelligent mammals, are considered as property under the law. They are accorded no legal rights beyond being guaranteed the right to be free from physical abuse and other mistreatment.” She also wrote, "The past mistreatment of humans, whether slaves, women, indigenous people or others, as property, doesn't, however, serve as a legal predicate or appropriate analogy for extending to nonhumans the status of legal personhood."
Justice Jaffee's decision is available for viewing here.
Please stay tuned for a more in-depth legal analysis from NABR.