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Pepperdine | Caruso School of Law

Rick Cupp quoted in Washington Post regarding legal personhood case

November 14, 2017 -- Professor Richard L. Cupp was quoted in the Washington Post article, "Three elephants in Connecticut just got a lawyer." The article considers a writ of habeas corpus petition filed in the Connecticut Superior Court on behalf of three elephants who belong to a family-owed traveling zoo, arguing that they are "legal persons."

Via the Washington Post:

Wise emphasized that his arguments are about animal rights, not about animal welfare, and the petition does not dwell on the elephants' living conditions.

But Richard L. Cupp, a Pepperdine law school professor who has criticized the quest for legal personhood for animals, said that the appropriate way to deal with concerns about captive animals is through expanded animal welfare laws.

Extending legal personhood to animals might end up loosening the definition, Cupp said. If, for example, people decided it was occasionally necessary to approve invasive experiments on animals despite their legal personhood, then the same might theoretically be asked about experiments on humans, he said. Associating intelligence with personhood would also "not necessarily be good for the most vulnerable human persons," Cupp said.

"It would not surprise me if these animals could be put in a better situation," Cupp said of the elephants. "But we should focus on human responsibility, either by making sure that our laws are enforced, which sometimes they're not, or expanding our laws. Our expansion of animal protection laws has been dramatic over the last 20 or 30 years. I'm arguing that should continue."

The complete article may be found at www.washingtonpost.com