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Animal Rights Activists Fear Vague Statute Has Chilling Effect on Lawful Protests

Posted Dec 15, 2011 6:38 PM CDT
By Rachel M. Zahorsky

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Animal rights activists challenged a rarely used law in a suit filed Thursday that allows the government to prosecute actions that cause profit losses for businesses that use or sell animal products.

The five activists, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, allege that the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act has a chilling effect on lawful protest activities as would-be protestors fear prosecution under the vaguely defined law, the Associated Press reports.

"Some of my clients want to engage in simple public protests—perhaps in front of a fur store—to change public opinion about fur," said Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Rachel Meeropol. "But they feel restricted from engaging in that clearly lawful activity because under the plain language of the law, if that protest is successful in convincing consumers not to shop at that fur store, they could be charged as terrorists."

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