All posts by John M. Simpson

Significant U.S. Supreme Court FOIA Decision Likely To Complicate Activist Agendas

by John M. Simpson.

As many lawyers representing animal-related businesses regulated by U.S. federal government agencies can attest to, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation by animal activist interests has become what amounts to a cottage industry.  Animal activist groups are prolific in their FOIA requests to various federal animal-related agencies — such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which regulates animal exhibitors and researchers under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) — for information on the persons and entities subject to USDA regulation.  This quest for business information typically unfolds as follows:  a business will mark its internal commercial and financial information “confidential” when submitting it to the agency in connection with an agency proceeding; the information is then requested through FOIA; the agency withholds it under FOIA Exemption 4; and then the fight becomes whether the release of the information will inflict “substantial competitive harm” on the submitter.  This all changed today with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Food Marketing Institute v. Argus Leader Media, No. 18-481, Slip opinion (U.S. June 24, 2019).  Continue reading Significant U.S. Supreme Court FOIA Decision Likely To Complicate Activist Agendas

Maine’s Top Court Rules Harvesting Seaweed Is Not “Fishing”

by John M. Simpson.

Animal rights enthusiasts have a knack for pushing the envelope in their various arguments that legal rights should be recognized for a wide variety of animal species.  For example, it was reported recently that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) tweeted in connection with World Oceans Day that “Oysters and other bivalves are animals who deserve our consideration.”  Against this backdrop, a recent decision of the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine raised an interesting issue.  Ross v. Acadian Seaplants, Ltd., 206 A.3d 283 (Me. 2019), presented the question whether “rockweed,” a species of seaweed in Maine that grows in the intertidal zone, is owned by the adjoining upland property owner who owns the intertidal soil in fee simple or is held in trust by the state through the jus publicum for the public to harvest. Continue reading Maine’s Top Court Rules Harvesting Seaweed Is Not “Fishing”

Dog Bite Allegations Highlight Issues In DOT Rulemaking On Air Travel With Service Animals

by John M. Simpson.

An Alabama man recently filed a lawsuit in state court in Georgia against Delta Airlines, Inc., and another passenger, arising out of an alleged dog-biting incident that occurred on a Delta flight.  Jackson v. Delta Air Lines, Inc., et al., No. 19EV00278, Complaint (Fulton Cty., Ga. May 24, 2019). Continue reading Dog Bite Allegations Highlight Issues In DOT Rulemaking On Air Travel With Service Animals

HSUS Gets Mixed Result in D.C. FOIA Case

by John M. Simpson.

On June 3, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted in part and denied in part cross-motions for summary judgment in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) had brought against the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, et al. (APHIS).  Humane Soc’y of the U.S. v. Animal and Plant Health Insp. Serv., et al., No. 1:18-cv-00646 (TNM) (D.D.C. June 3, 2019).  HSUS’s FOIA request was for site-inspection reports and other inspection records for specific animal dealers and exhibitors who are subject to regulation by APHIS under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). Continue reading HSUS Gets Mixed Result in D.C. FOIA Case

Ninth Circuit Rejects Enviro Challenge to Forest Service’s Motorized Big Game Retrieval Plan

By John M. Simpson.

On May 6, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected environmental groups’ challenges  to travel management plans issued by the U.S. Forest Service (Service) pursuant to the Service’s Travel Management Rule in three Ranger Districts in the Kaibab National Forest:  the Williams, Tusayan and North Kaibab Ranger Districts.  WildEarth Guardians, et al. v. Provencio, No. 17-17373 (9th Cir. May 6, 2019).  The court of appeals concluded that the Service’s actions were not contrary to the Travel Management Rule and complied with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  Continue reading Ninth Circuit Rejects Enviro Challenge to Forest Service’s Motorized Big Game Retrieval Plan

Study Shows Racism and Sexism Contribute to Animal Activist “Burnout”

by John M. Simpson.

A study was published recently in Social Movement Studies entitled “Nobody’s paying me to cry:  the causes of activist burnout in United States animal rights activists.”  The authors concluded that, while many factors play a role, racist and sexist treatment of individuals within animal rights groups also contributed to what the authors described as “burnout:”  “when people once deeply embedded in movements – people who intended to remain engaged – are forced to disengage due to the stress impacts of participation.” Continue reading Study Shows Racism and Sexism Contribute to Animal Activist “Burnout”

Pigeon Seeks Election as “Animal Mayor”

by John M. Simpson

As recently reported, a pigeon in the London borough of Lewisham named “Tony” has been proposed by an online petition to be the town’s “Animal Mayor.”  The petition requests that the existing mayor and borough council create this position which would be “the figure head and forum to bring everyone together.”  According to the petition, “if we had a more respectful and empathetic view of Lewhisham’s non-human residents, we would try harder to protect the environment.”  Tony’s entertaining campaign video indicates that he would rename the borough, which has 300,000 inhabitants, “Zooisham.”   Evidently, the campaign would be “run online and open to every resident of Lewisham aged 5 and above.”  Perhaps Tony will have some insights on Brexit strategy.

 

PETA Jumps the Shark with Steve Irwin Tweets

by John M. Simpson.

As recently reported by the BBC,  and by other media outlets, PETA went off the rails on Friday by disparaging the name of Steve Irwin on the occasion of what would have been his 57th birthday.  Irwin was a wildlife conservationist, enthusiast and television performer well known for his interesting and often breath-taking interactions with wildlife, crocodiles in particular.  Irwin died in 2006 after a fatal interaction with a stingray during a wildlife program shoot. Continue reading PETA Jumps the Shark with Steve Irwin Tweets

PETA Animal “Shelter” Continues to Show High Rate of Euthanization

by John M. Simpson.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization well-known for attention-grabbing tactics, often inserts itself into a wide variety of issues to promote its views.  In the past several days, PETA complained about performer Big Boi wearing a fur coat during the Super Bowl; complained that the character “Little Bo Peep” will be portrayed with a shepherd’s crook in the animated feature Toy Story 4; and insisted that wildlife art be displayed on President Trump’s Wall (if it is ever built).  Continue reading PETA Animal “Shelter” Continues to Show High Rate of Euthanization

British Dairy Farmers Also Caught in the Activist Cross-Hairs

By John M. Simpson.

Last week, we reported on an Australian animal rights group that published an interactive map providing the names, locations and other identifying details of farmers and other animal enterprises across Australia.  This week, an organization in the U.K. followed suit and published a similar map targeting dairy famers in England and Wales.  Continue reading British Dairy Farmers Also Caught in the Activist Cross-Hairs