SeaWorld has been sued by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for violating the U.S. Constitution by enslaving killer whales.
The suit was filed in San Diego and involves five SeaWorld parks in California and Florida, where five orca whales perform. “All five of these orcas were violently seized from the ocean and taken from their families as babies,” PETA’s president said in a statement. “They are denied freedom and everything else that is natural and important to them while kept in small concrete tanks and reduced to performing stupid tricks.”
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
David Steinberg, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, called the constitutional claim “patently, absolutely frivolous.”
“The 13th Amendment abolished the abhorrent, despicable practice of the slavery of human beings,” he said. “PETA is demeaning the integrity and humanity of people who were owned as slaves. That is outrageous.”
PETA brought the suit as a “next friend” of the whales. The suit seeks the release of the whales to a “suitable habitat.”
Source: Marty Graham, “SeaWorld accused in suit of enslaving captive orcas,” Reuters, October 26, 2011, via faces of lawsuit abuse, a project of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform