Rick Cupp: “Cognitively Impaired Humans, Intelligent Animals, and Legal Personhood” at Irish Association of Law Teachers conference

November 15, 2016 | By Kylie Larkin — Professor Richard L. Cupp is speaking on “Cognitively Impaired Humans, Intelligent Animals, and Legal Personhood” (SSRN) at the Irish Association of Law Teachers annual conference being held November 19-20 in Waterford, Ireland.

In addition, Professor Cupp recently spoke to two audiences via teleconference regarding animal legal personhood:

  • He discussed legal personhood for intelligent animals and outline proposals for enhancing animals’ legal protections under an animal welfare paradigm for Excellence Beyond Compliance: Enhancing Animal Welfare Through the Constructive Use of the Animal Welfare Act (see excellencebeyondcompliance.com).
  • He discussed animal legal personhood versus an animal welfare legal paradigm for the Animal Law course at Hofstra Law School (see bulletin.hofstra.edu).

Abstract of “Cognitively Impaired Humans, Intelligent Animals, and Legal Personhood”:

This Article analyzes whether courts should grant legal personhood to intelligent animal species, such as chimpanzees, with a particular focus on comparisons made to cognitively impaired humans who are recognized as legal persons even though they may have less practical autonomy than intelligent animals. Granting legal personhood would allow human representatives to initiate some legal actions with the animals as direct parties to the litigation, as is presently allowed for humans with cognitive impairments that leave them incapable of representing their own interests. For example, a human asserting to act on behalf of an intelligent animal might seek a writ of habeas corpus to demand release from a restrictive environment where less restrictive environments, such as relatively spacious sanctuaries, are available. Highly publicized litigation seeking legal personhood in a habeas corpus context for chimpanzees is underway in New York, and the lawsuits have garnered the support of some eminent legal scholars and philosophers. Regardless of its short-term success or failure, this litigation represents the beginning of a long struggle with broad and deep societal implications.

More on the Irish Association of Law Teachers conference may be found at www.ialt.ie.