Although she quickly retraced her steps and redacted the relevant words from her order, a judge in New York yesterday granted a writ of habeas corpus to two chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, implicitly granting them status as legal persons, according to the chimps’ attorneys.
The attorneys who brought the petition forward, part of the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), argued – before the judge struck the words – that under New York law, “only a ‘legal person’ may have an order to show cause and writ of habeas corpus issued in his or her behalf. The court has therefore implicitly determined that Hercules and Leo are ‘persons’.”
“This is one step in a long, long struggle,” said Steven Wise, the lawyer leading the effort. “She never says explicitly that our non-human plaintiffs were persons but by issuing the order … she’s either saying implicitly that they are or that they certainly can be. So that’s the first time that has happened.” …
A spokesperson for the judge denied that she had implied personhood to the chimpanzees.
There is no word in the Guardian‘s report on the theological arguments for or against, nor the religious implications of (accidentally or otherwise) granting personhood to our fellow primates, although the conservative site Breakpoint, considered and rejected the question during an earlier chimpanzee legal challenge.
What say you?
“Monkey-typing” by New York Zoological Society – Picture on Early Office Museum. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Posted by Rosalind Hughes