i January 4, 2013

ISAR has long used the legal system in behalf of animal rights.

The first federal case ever to use the phrase “animal rights” was Jones v. Butz, 374 F.Supp. 1284 (SDNY, three-judge court, 1974). ISAR’s chairman, Professor Henry Mark Holzer,[1] on behalf of a wide-range of plaintiffs challenged sections of the federal Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act on the ground that its religious exemption — which effectively nullified the act’s protection for countless livestock animals -violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

The first state case ever to use the phrase “animal rights” was Jones v. Beame, 45 N.Y.2d 402 (1978). Professor Holzer on behalf of ISAR’s then-president, Helen Jones, and ISAR itself sued to close the Central Park zoo in New York City on the ground that the treatment of the animals confined there violated the anti-cruelty statutes of the State of New York.

As long ago as the early 1970’s ISAR sued the United States government to stop the slaughter of millions of blackbirds.

In the decades since, Professor Holzer has provided tactical and strategic legal advice to a wide range of animal rights/welfare organizations and their lawyers in cases involving the protection and advancement of animal rights. As of the beginning of January 2013 ISAR has begun offering strategic and tactical advice to a California law firm in connection with its case seeking to reform an animal shelter.

We’ve filed amicus curiae briefs in state and federal courts, for example:

  • O’Sullivan v. City of San Diego, 2007 WL 2570783 (2007) — a case that sought to protect the federal recognized seal rookery at Casa Beach in La Jolla, California, from depredation by swimmers and fishermen. Professor Holzer on behalf of ISAR and several other animal protection organizations consulted with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and submitted amicus curiae briefs in the California Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of the State of California.
  • Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, Florida, 508 U.S. 520 (1993), in which Professor Holzer on behalf of ISAR and eleven other animal protection organizations filed amicus curiae briefs in the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Hialeah’s ordinance that prohibited the Santeria cult from sacrificing animals as part of an alleged religious ceremony.
  • United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 1577 (2010) in which ISAR and Professor Holzer (together with Lance Gotko, Esq. of the New York City law firm Friedman Kaplan Siler & Adelman) filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the government’s argument that the federal statute criminalizing the making, selling or possessing depictions of “crush videos” and other torture and killing of animals was constitutional.

Increasingly, there are animal-related cases in appellate courts all over the country, involving experimentation, hunting, farming, sport, education, spay/neuter, and more — cases needing amicus curiae briefs from a pro-animal perspective.

There’s a lot of appellate work for lawyers who would use the legal system in behalf of animal rights. Unfortunately, virtually all of it is pro bono publico.

Lawyers interested in volunteering to work with Professor Holzer and ISAR to perform amicus curiae appellate services in aid of animal rights are encouraged to contact ISAR via email (contact@isaronline.org), phone (570-586-2200), fax (570-586-9580) or through the USPS at ISAR, P.O. Box F, Clarks Summit, PA 18411, and provide us with the following information:

  1. Name.
  2. Firm name.
  3. Office address.
  4. Telephone and fax number(s).
  5. Email address.
  6. Year(s) admitted to practice, and jurisdiction(s).
  7. Specialization(s), if any.
  8. Post-law school judicial clerkship(s).
  9. Judicial experience.
  10. Experience with animal-related cases.
  11. Amount of time available annually.
  12. Whether you and/or your firm has a formal pro bono program.

Although at the initial stages of the amicus curiae brief process — issue analysis, research, tactics and strategy — Professor Holzer will be involved and will be named on the brief with volunteer counsel, the work product will be entirely theirs. (It will be the responsibility of volunteers to obtain permission to file the brief, and for filing it. ISAR will pay printing and filing costs.)

Thank you.

[Please forward this request to any lawyer(s) who might be interested in participating].


[1] In The Birth of Animal Rights Law: The Role of Lawyers in the Animal Rights/Protection Movement from 1972-1987, Joyce Tischler, Esq., founder and president of Animal Legal Defense Fund, set out to “explore the roots of a large scale, organized movement, which started in the early 1970s in the United States, spearheaded by attorneys and law students with the express purpose of filing lawsuits to protect animals and establish the concept of their legal rights, regardless of the species of the animals or the ownership interest of humans.”

In that article, Ms. Tischler graciously names as “the first animal rights lawyer” ISAR’s chairman, Henry Mark Holzer, professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School.

She credits Professor Holzer, then a practicing attorney professionally associated with ISAR, with three accomplishments crucial to establishing the field of what today is known as “animal rights law”: with ISAR, having brought the first federal and first state lawsuit to invoke the moral concept of “animal rights”; with ISAR, having founded the Animal Rights Law Reporter, which became “the legal clearinghouse for animal rights law information”; and, again with ISAR, having organized the “First National Conference on Animal Rights Law”-an undertaking, in Ms. Tischler’s words, “[t]he significance of which cannot be overstated.”