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Your Chimp’s Lawyer Is On The Line

Chimp on the phone
If, in these days when the President is America’s lawbreaker in chief, you are inclined to agree with Charles Dickens’ Mr. Bumble that “the law is an ass,” then there’s confirmation of Dickens’ point in a lawsuit brought by the Nonhuman Rights Project on behalf of Tommy, the chimpanzee.

According to the British newspaper The Telegraph, the Nonhuman Rights Project has asked a New York state court to declare Tommy (a 26-year-old chimp) "a cognitively complex autonomous legal person with the fundamental legal right not to be imprisoned."

According to The Telegraph, the lawsuit on Tommy's behalf is among three the group is filing this week on behalf of four chimps across New York. The other chimps are Kiko, a 26-year-old chimp living on a private property in Niagara Falls, and Hercules and Leo, two young male chimps used in research at Stony Brook University on Long Island, the group said.

The lawsuit states that chimps are entitled to a "fundamental right to bodily liberty," which the organization told the Reuters news service is the basic right to be left alone and not held for entertainment or research. 

Now here’s where Mr. Bumble’s remark that “the law is an ass” comes alive.

According to The Telegraph’s reporting, the Nonhuman Rights Project is on a nationwide search for an optimal venue to file lawsuits asserting the “personhood” of chimpanzees. New York was ultimately chosen because of its generally flexible view of requests for a writ of habeas corpus, the centuries-old right in English law to challenge unlawful detention.

Hummm, we seem to recall that when chimps aren’t “imprisoned” or in “detention” they have been known to attack other “cognitively complex autonomous legal persons,” such as Carla Nash, a Connecticut woman so disfigured when a friend's pet chimpanzee attacked her in 2009 that she was blinded and required a face transplant.

We think all animals should be treated humanely before they become dinner and the same goes for Tommy, whom no one is likely to eat. Nevertheless, Tommy is property, not a “person” and the interference of the Nonhuman Rights Project in the property rights of Tommy’s owners should be thrown out forthwith with sanctions against the filing of a frivolous lawsuit imposed upon the Nonhuman Rights Project.

We would hope that New York’s elected officials and particularly the State’s notoriously “cognitively non-complex” Congressional delegation would agree. After all, should the Nonhuman Rights Project prevail and Tommy be given his legal personhood who knows what doors may be open to him, he may use his newfound “fundamental right to bodily liberty” to do all kinds of things a person in New York can do, like run for Congress or Judge.

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Well considering

Considering what is occupying most Fed elected positions, a chimp couldn't ne any worse and could likely be an improvement - especially if actually left to his own devices and not "represented" the the Nonhuman Rights Project