I was reading this story about Jason Wandner's efforts to save Mercedes, a Broward pit bull that is about to be euthanized for killing a neighborhood cat under Broward County's strict new one-strike law:
I guess the constitutional argument is that the county is taking property of a citizen without due process. That seems like a tough one.
Supporters argue the new law helps save more innocent animals from being killed in future attacks. Critics claim it is too harsh and does not give owners the chance to change a pet's behavior.
Hoesch's attorney, Jason Wandner, argues the county law is unconstitutional and conflicts with a state law that allows for more than one fatal attack on an animal.
In a recent ruling, Broward Circuit Judge Ana Gardiner rejected that argument, saying the county has the right to make its rules stricter than state law.
Wandner plans to appeal.
''Dog kills a cat, or another dog, goodbye,'' he said. ``The dog is just summarily executed. Under the new law, there are no second chances.''
But why can't the dog sue?
I have been following efforts to reimagine the law's relationship with the natural world, which have been spearheaded by South Florida's Center For Earth Jurisprudence, jointly sponsored by Barry and St. Thomas Universities.
We all know that certain inanimate objects or even legal fictions have rights -- corporations, for example, or ships.
So why not a forest, or a bunch of rocks:
Earth jurisprudence is closely allied with environmental law but is, in fact, broader; after several decades of implementation of environmental rules, ecosystems across the planet are as near or still closer to tipping points as before. Clearly - indeed, urgently - a more significant transformation of legal thinking is required to extend appropriate consideration to the intrinsic, spiritual value of the natural world. The CEJ creates law school curriculum that delves into Earth jurisprudence principles and promotes professional and academic discourse in the legal community. The CEJ is helping to extend legal protection to all human and non-human members of the Earth community; this includes consideration of the rights of future generations.Should you be able to sue on behalf of a natural object, or a piece of property like an animal?
It sounds ridiculous, but so are most rights before they are extended -- women's sufferage, Dred Scott, remember women and slaves were property under the law at various points in our nation's jurisprudence:
The notion of nature’s rights has long been cherished in environmentalist circles; the idea cropped up in the writings of Sierra Club founder John Muir in the late 19th century and the influential ecologist Aldo Leopold in the mid-20th century. But the first sustained legal argument is usually attributed to Christopher Stone, a law professor at the University of Southern California. In 1972, Stone wrote an article entitled “Should Trees Have Standing?”, which laid out the case for expanding rights that is now commonly cited. (The essay, originally published in the Southern California Law Review, will be reissued by Oxford University Press in 2010.)I remember that article from law school, and enjoyed debating it with my law professors.
Personally, I'm not convinced -- rights are potent currency, and in general should not be diluted where alternative schemes of protection exist.
Still, one of the sadder aspects of the Sotomayor hearings is the way the law was dumbed-down for these stuffy, close-minded Senators.
You'd never know from the way "the law" was presented at these hearings that what we do is often intellectually stimulating and filled with nuance, sophistication, daring, and imagination.
Oh well -- I better get back to writing those meaningless interrogatory responses.