Letter to the Editor: AETA article needs clarification

Letter to the Editor: AETA article needs clarification

Editor's Note: An article in the Aug. 19 Feedstuffs titled "Animal Terrorism Law: Repeal Effort Abandoned" originally stated that a resolution to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was debated in the American Bar Assn.'s (ABA) House of Delegates and then was withdrawn.

However, Steve Kopperud, executive vice president of government relations firm Policy Directions Inc. and coordinator of the Farm Animal Welfare Coalition (FAWC), explained that a "coordinated opposition from ag, biomed, entertainment/education users of animals convinced the (New York City Bar Assn.), in the face of likely defeat, to withdraw the resolution from the ABA House of Delegates."

FAWC membership includes major national farm, feed and animal agriculture associations, and it coordinated agriculture's push for the animal terrorism law in 2006.

Kopperud explained that the law has been carefully drafted and amended to still uphold free speech rights, including advisement from the American Civil Liberties Union to Congress in the writing of the law in order to not override existing case law. The online version of the original article includes these viewpoints as well as the New York City Bar Assn.'s following statement:


Dear Editor:

We write to clarify a couple of factual errors in your article.

First, the sponsor of the resolution and report to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was the American Bar Assn.'s Section of Individual Rights & Responsibilities (IRR), not the New York City Bar Assn. (NYC Bar). The NYC Bar supported the resolution as a cosponsor.

Second, it was IRR that withdrew the resolution to allow more time to consider the issue; the NYC Bar has no power to do so.

That said, we want to reiterate that the NYC Bar believes that AETA, as drafted, impinges upon First Amendment rights. The NYC Bar does not condone acts of violence or threats of violence or other actions that harm those who are involved in research and testing involving animals.

However, AETA can be used to prosecute conduct well beyond those acts. Protection against dangerous conduct can be provided under other federal or state laws or, if need be, under an appropriately tailored federal law. However, as written, AETA punishes pure speech.


Christine Mott

Chair, Animal Law Committee, New York City Bar Assn.

Sebastian Ricciardi

Chair, Civil Rights Committee, New York City Bar Assn.

Volume:85 Issue:34

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