Standing to Protect and Advocate for Animals

Katherine Meyer

Director, Animal Law & Policy Clinic
Harvard Law School

There are many laws on the books that were enacted to protect animals –in captivity and in the wild, including, e.g., the Endangered Species Act, the Animal Welfare Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Humane Slaughter Act, and the various state anti-cruelty statutes. However, if these laws are not enforced, they are useless for that purpose. While the federal government can always enforce these federal laws, and state authorities can enforce the state anti-cruelty statutes, unfortunately, they often fail to do so. And, because animals do not currently have the right to enforce these laws in their own name, humans need to step in and try to do so on their behalf. This is where the law of “standing” comes into play – who has standing to bring such cases? This presentation will discuss the law of standing to bring federal lawsuits to protect and advocate for animals, and will also briefly discuss the law of standing to bring cases in state courts as well.

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