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Elephants are autonomous and conscious, and deserve their day in court

EPHRAT LIVNI: ‘ “Legal personhood” is not as straightforward as it sounds. For example, in the US, corporations are considered “legal people” in certain contexts because it’s recognized that an entity can also be a “person”… The Nov. 13 lawsuit, filed in state court, argues that a “person” is not a “human being” but an “entity with the capacity for legal rights.” As such, captive elephants Beulah, Minnie, and Karen are “persons within the meaning of Connecticut law” and so entitled to a hearing on the basis of a writ to “bring the body,” known in legal parlance as a petition for habeas corpus…

The [Nonhuman Rights Project] animal-rights advocacy organization is arguing that the three elephants, who range in age from 45 to 50 years old, are “persons” being held unlawfully against their will, in harsh conditions, each after a lifetime of servitude, and should be released to a sanctuary.

It’s a creative argument, and one that might not succeed. The same advocacy group attempted similar litigation on behalf of chimpanzees in New York and failed. But it isn’t a crazy argument to make: claims that have seemed absurd to a culture at one point—like the right to equal protection under the law for all people regardless of race or gender, or the right to marriage regardless of sexual preference—become commonplace decades later. This is how rights are made and cultures change’. SOURCE…

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