Today, November 10, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected a petition for a writ of Certiorari that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.
As NABR members are aware, five activists, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), filed suit in U.S. District Court in late 2011. On March 18, 2013, the suit was dismissed because activists lacked standing to challenge the law. The activists’ challenge rested on their asserted fear of prosecution of engaging in First Amendment-protected activities, such as protesting or letter-writing campaigns. The District Court determined that lawful advocacy is not prohibited by the AETA and found the activists had no standing to challenge the constitutionality of the law, since they failed to indicate an “intention to engage in any activity ‘that could reasonably be construed’ to fall within the statute.” The federal appeals court upheld that ruling and now the Supreme Court has denied the activists’ petition to review the case.
This development follows in the footsteps of the March 7, 2014 dismissal of the case by the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, affirming a prior ruling by the U.S. District Court in the District of Massachusetts that the activists lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the AETA.
This decision by the Supreme Court marks another significant day for the biomedical research community. Thanks to these two important rulings and the decision by the Supreme Court, the constitutionality of the AETA continues to withstand legal challenges from the animal rights community. Please stay tuned and visit www.NABR.org for latest news.