Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Congress' Lone Voice against the AETA
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Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Congress' Lone Voice against the AETA
Vegan Congressman releases statement opposing unconstitutional bill

Out of the 100 Senators and 435 Representatives that comprise the United States Congress, Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is the only one to have voted against the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a recently-approved bill that threatens Americans' basic civil liberties. As one of the more than 160 members of the Equal Justice Alliance, a national coalition of social advocacy organizations preserving free speech and equal treatment under the law, IDA strongly supports Congressman Kucinich's efforts to safeguard the right to speak and act lawfully against cruelty to animals. We are therefore proud to present Congressman Kucinich's official position on the AETA in his own words:

Statement of Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act:

I stand with every Member of the House in defense of the rights of individuals to be free of bodily harm or injury under all and any circumstances. But, the fact of the matter is, existing Federal law already includes any place which does Federal research.

So the question is, why create a new and specific classification here?

We, of course, need to protect peoples' right to conduct their work without fear of assault. But, a larger question remains yet unanswered by this Congress: How should animals be treated humanely?

There are some specific principles with respect to humane treatment of animals but, these do not go far enough. My concern about this bill is that it does nothing to address the real issue of animal protection but, instead targets those advocating animal rights. This legislation will have a real and chilling effect on people's Constitutionally protected First Amendment rights.

I am not talking about people who would threaten anyone with death because they don't agree with them, but there are individuals who love animals, who don't want to see animals hurt, who have a point and a right to speak out. I think for that reason, this bill has not yet reached its maturity.

I understand what the sponsors of this bill are trying to do, but I don't think that they will reach the end they are hoping to achieve unless this Congress makes a clear statement about ethical principles with respect to animals and how we treat animals in research and other enterprise.

These are very serious questions that millions of Americans care about. I understand the intent here, but I think that you must be very careful about painting everyone with the broad brush of terrorism who might have a legitimate objection to research with or treatment of animals that is inhumane.

Bringing up a bill like this under procedures that only allow limited debate, and no amendments, no matter how well intentioned, is problematic.

I am not and never have been in favor of anyone using a cloak of free speech to commit violence. The Supreme Court Justice said, your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose. No one has the right to yell ''fire'' in a crowded theater. We have heard those kinds of admonitions.

I am not for anyone abusing their rights by damaging another person's property or person, but I am for protecting the First Amendment and not creating a special class of violations for a specific type of protest.

Balancing Constitutional concerns against the protection of people and property is never easy. Unfortunately, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act goes too far in the wrong direction.

- Thank Congressman Kucinich for taking a stand for freedom of speech and against animal cruelty.

- Congressman Kucinich is currently leading a serious effort to push for stronger federal legislation on farm animal welfare. He is compiling a list of all American citizens who want tougher farm animal protection laws which he will present to his colleagues in Congress. Please join his efforts to support humane treatment of farm animals.

- Congressman Kucinich recently declared his candidacy for the President of the United States. Watch the video of his announcement speech.

- Contact your two Senators and Representative to explain why the AETA should be repealed.

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