If AETA was in place during the 1950s and ‘60s, civil rights activists who engaged in lunch counter sit-ins at restaurants that serve animal products might have faced 10-year prison terms. It also would include any kind of whistleblower looking to flag illegal or questionable practices of the company.
According to the ACLU:
“Lawful and peaceful protests that, for example, urge a consumer boycott of a company that does not use humane procedures, could be the target of this provision because they ‘disrupt’ the company’s business. This overbroad provision might also apply to a whistleblower whose intentions are to stop harmful or illegal activities by the animal enterprise. The bill will effectively chill and deter Americans from exercising their First Amendment rights to advocate for reforms in the treatment of animals.”
The House is expected to vote on this bill soon after returning from recess possibly this week. The electorate’s call for sweeping change in Congress last week gives us new cause to encourage Members to vote down this bill that is a direct hit to our First Amendment rights. Please contact your Representative and the House Judiciary Committee today and ask them to oppose the AETA.
While this bill speaks primarily to animal rights activists and their abilities to challenge animal rights abuses in the corporate sector, it also is a new tactic in how corporate America chooses to deal with active opposition to their policies, or lack there of. AETA can be applied to a breadth of situations and activities that could very well limit the ability of any activist in America to challenge or call to question a corporation's actions around animal rights, human rights and the environment.