Richard Cupp, ‘Cognitively Impaired Human, 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 whom the law recognizes 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 the law presently allows 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 …

Richard L Cupp, Cognitively Impaired Human, Intelligent Animals, and Legal Personhood, 69 Florida Law Review 465 (2017).

First posted 2018-01-11 07:33:54

Leave a Reply