Sometimes radical ideas take root in the big, so-called progressive states and eventually find their way to the most remote corners of the republic, in places like Louisiana.
We hope that doesn’t happen with a crazy idea that’s got them talking in New York: a trial to free a zoo elephant based on a writ of habeas corpus.
An organization called The Nonhuman Rights Project is described on its website as “the only civil rights organization in the United States dedicated solely to protecting the rights of nonhuman animals.” We will take their word for it.
The group marched in New York City court on behalf of Happy, an elephant who has resided at the Bronx Zoo for more than 40 years. The lawsuit argued that the elephant had the same rights as a person and should be moved from the zoo grounds to an elephant sanctuary.
The New York Court of Appeals aptly dismissed all of this folly, pointing out that writs of habeas corpus are designed to protect “the right to liberty of human beings.” The 5-2 ruling would hardly come as a surprise, though New York taxpayers may question the strength of the two dissenting justices.
We hate to think of the legal actions that could be taken in Louisiana courts if the non-human rights project takes root here. A dispute to prevent alligators from sacrificing their skins for belts and purses? A trial of Valerio the jaguar, who forced his way out of his cage at the Audubon Zoo in 2018? A class action in the name of crayfish awaiting their fate in a large metal pot?
What if the courts decide that the nutria, which gnaws through marsh grasses despite the best efforts of hunters and Baton Rouge’s U.S. Representative Garret Graves, the world’s greatest anti-nutria statesman, deserves a level playing field? ?
Here in Louisiana, we are sometimes challenged to protect the constitutional rights of our human population. Let’s focus on doing things right before worrying about animals.