In this seminar, students will discuss a series of topics that relate to animals and law in various environments. The course will cover a wide array of animal law issues, including the legal classification of animals as property, constitutional standing to sue on behalf of animals, environmental impact of legal treatment of animals under the Endangered Species Act and similar federal and state legislation and regulation, laws and enforcement relating to commercial uses of animals, and criminal and civil action that affect animals such as animal anti-cruelty laws and private causes of action such as loss of companionship/emotional distress. We will address the extent to which the legal system, specific cases, legislation and background cultural values have affected, and will continue to affect, the ways in which judges, administrators, politicians, lawyers, law students, legal scholars, and lay people see, speak about, and treat animals other than humans. This course will focus on the evolution, interpretation, and enforcement of laws relating to the use and treatment of animals in our society, evaluation of whether, how and why such laws should be modified, the possible ramifications of such change, and the practical impact that lawyers can have in representing clients on animal-related issues.
The course grade will be based on a combination of experiential and research projects and either an exam or a paper. In the past, experiential projects have included working with local attorneys or organizations on animal-related cases, policies, or legislation.