Professor Rick Cupp Quoted in Connecticut Appellate Court Animal Law Opinion

August 20, 2019 | An appellate court quoted Professor Richard L. Cupp in support of its unanimous decision rejecting a highly publicized lawsuit seeking to establish legal personhood for elephants. In Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. v. R.W. Commerford & Sons, Inc., the Connecticut Appellate Court held elephants do not have standing as legal persons, and noted:

One academic has also remarked: “Our society and government are based on the ideal of moral agents coming together to create a system of rules that entail both rights and duties. Being . . . subject to legal duties and bearing rights are foundations of our legal system because they are foundations of our entire form of government.” R. Cupp, Focusing on Human Responsibility Rather Than Legal Personhood for Nonhuman Animals, 33 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 517, 527 (2016).

Professor Cupp’s writings support human responsibility for appropriate animal welfare protection rather than assigning legal personhood to animals. The R.W. Commerford decision also promoted this approach:

Our conclusion that the petitioner in this case lacks standing, however, does not restrict it, or others, from advocating for added protections for elephants or other nonhuman animals at the legislature. We acknowledge that elephants are magnificent animals who naturally develop social structures and exhibit emotional and intellectual capacities. They are deserving of humane treatment whether they exist in the wild or captivity. Our law recognizes—as any pet owner knows—that animals are sentient beings and an entirely different kind of property than a chair or a table.

Professor Cupp’s article, “Focusing on Human Responsibility Rather Than Legal Personhood for Nonhuman Animals,” may be found here