HumaneWatch.org, a project of the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom, recently criticized a resolution by the New York City Bar Association that calls on the American Bar Association (ABA) to push the Justice Department to cease enforcing the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and ask Congress to repeal the law. The resolution will be voted on Monday, August 12th at the ABA’s annual meeting in San Francisco, CA.

Originally known as the Animal Enterprise Protection Act of 1992, 18 USC §43 was upgraded in 2006 after Congress passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, which followed the arrests of animal activists with a New Jersey-based group called “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty” (SHAC), a group opposed to necessary research involving animals. According to the FBI, SHAC tactics included death threats and computer attacks to target not just Huntingdon Life Sciences, a pharmaceutical research company, but affiliate companies, their employees, and family members. The AETA gives federal law enforcement authorities more power to go after animal liberation terrorists.

In 2013 alone animal rights terrorists have attempted firebombing a police car in Vancouver, hacked a New York business, burglarized a mink farm in Idaho, vandalized a San Diego fur store, and freed pheasants from a farm in Riverside, CA, an action that resulted in the deaths of several animals.

“The New York City Bar Association’s resolution to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act is not only misguided and reckless but could have disastrous effects on American businesses and the very animals that these animal rights vigilantes claim to protect,” said Will Coggin, CCF’s Senior Research Analyst. “Despite the claims of animal rights activists and the NYC Bar Association, the AETA expressly protects free speech, while also balancing the need to protect the livelihoods of farmers, store owners, researchers, and their families.” 

Groups like the Humane Society of the United States (an animal liberation group not associated with local animal shelters), which opposed the AETA, are still able to use their often inflammatory and venomous language to demonize those that oppose their vegan, PETA-like agendas. The AETA simply holds people who perform acts that unlawfully intimidate or interfere with the legitimate businesses of farmers, retailers, and researchers.

“Activists can practically shout fire in a pet store, but they can’t burn it down,” continued Coggin. “Repealing the AETA would only encourage intimidation campaigns from animal rights groups while taking tools away from law enforcement.”