Committee Reports

Amicus Brief: Blum v. Holder (U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, July 2013)

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This case was filed by Plaintiffs-Appellants who are five animal activists challenging the constitutionality of 18 U.S.C. §43[1] on the grounds that the statute encroaches on their free speech rights which they state have been chilled. See
Blum v. Holder, No. 11-12229-JLT, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36979 (D. Mass. Mar. 18, 2013). We agree. This is no ordinary statute. Its very title—the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (“AETA”)—portends to prosecute “terrorists” and mete out harsh penalties. However, the statute misapplies the terrorism label to protected speech activity, such as leafleting, protests and boycotts. This alone chills even protected speech.

The District Court dismissed the case, stating that the plaintiffs lacked standing because they did not show an injury-in-fact. Id. at *21. After reviewing the plain language of the statute and the case law, we conclude that this Court should grant plaintiffs standing and rule that the statute is unconstitutional.

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[1] “(a) OFFENSE. – Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce, or uses or causes to be used the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce –
“(1) for the purpose of damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise; and
“(2) in connection with such purpose –
‘‘(A) intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by an animal enterprise, or any real or personal property of a person or entity having a connection to, relationship with, or transactions with an animal enterprise;
‘‘(B) intentionally places a person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person, a member of the immediate family … of that person, or a spouse or intimate partner of that person by a course of conduct involving threats, acts of vandalism, property damage, criminal trespass, harassment, or intimidation;
‘‘(C) conspires or attempts to do so; shall be punished as provided for in subsection (b).”