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AETA4 motion to dismiss filed
by AETA4 Support
Friday May 22nd, 2009 8:18 PM
Joint motion to dismiss now filed.
Rights Lawyers File Motion for Activists Indicted as Terrorists for Leafleting, Internet Research

Rights Attorneys File Motion Saying AETA Indictment In Violation of First Amendment

May 21, 2009, New York, NY – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC) joined in defense attorneys’ motion to dismiss the U.S. government’s indictment of four animal rights activists under the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA).

“To characterize protest and speech as terrorist activities is ludicrous,” said CCR cooperating attorney Matthew Strugar. “And it is not just animal rights activists who are in danger here. The AETA is so broad and unclear it could be used to suppress lawful protests and boycotts by any activists across the spectrum, no matter what the issue. The law must be struck down.”

The activists, Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo, referred to as the AETA 4, were indicted for alleged conspiracy to commit “animal enterprise terrorism” as a result of their alleged participation in conduct including protesting, writing with chalk on the sidewalk, chanting, leafleting, and the use of “the Internet to find information on bio-medical researchers.” These activities are protected by the First Amendment.

Passed by Congress towards the end of the Bush administration, the AETA makes activities such as protests, boycotts, picketing and whistleblowing crimes. Though the AETA targets animal rights activists, lawyers say its language is so broad and vague that it could be easily used to prosecute any activists who might engage in peaceful activities such as a labor group picketing or organizing a boycott. For this reason, CCR has joined with the AETA 4 to ask the court to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

The case of the AETA 4 is the first use of the AETA since it was signed into law – it is clear that the law can and will be used against lawful activists. Attorneys say it is of critical importance that the case against the AETA 4 be dropped in order to protect our Constitutional right to dissent.

“These activists are peaceable individuals exercising their rights as guaranteed by the United States,” said volunteer attorney for the AETA 4 Bob Bloom. “This law is a blatant attempt to silence peaceful political dissent and fundamental rights in the interests of industries that abuse our natural resources.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is a non-profit legal and educational organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. CCR is committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change and uses litigation to empower poor communities and communities of color, to guarantee the rights of those with the fewest protections and least access to legal resources, to train the next generation of constitutional and human rights attorneys, and to strengthen the broader movement for constitutional and human rights. Visit http://www.CCRjustice.org

The Civil Liberties Defense Center is a nonprofit organization focused on defending and upholding civil liberties through education, outreach, litigation, legal support and assistance. The Civil Liberties Defense Center strives to preserve the strength and vitality of the Bill of Rights and the U.S. and state constitutions, as well as to protect freedom of expression. Visit http://www.cldc.org.
§Motion to dismiss
by In Full Thursday May 28th, 2009 10:10 PM

The motion to dismiss is online now. It can be read here:

http://ccrjustice.org/files/AETA%20-%20Buddenberg%20Motion%20to%20Dismiss.pdf

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by via CCR
Saturday May 23rd, 2009 1:39 PM

Synopsis

U.S.A. v. Buddenberg is a federal prosecution of four animal rights activists in California—being referred to as the AETA 4—for conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism. The 4 are being charged with a course of conduct that includes First Amendment protected activities such as protesting, chalking the sidewalk, chanting and leafleting.

Status

On May 22, 2009, CCR joined with defense counsel to file a motion to dismiss the U.S. government’s indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The motion asks the Court to strike down the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as unconstitutional.

Description

U.S.A. v. Buddenberg is a federal prosecution of four animal rights activists in California for conspiracy to commit animal enterprise terrorism. On February 19th and 20th, the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI arrested four animal rights activists as “terrorists.” The indictment against Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo (the AETA 4) charges them with conduct including protesting, chalking the sidewalk, chanting and leafleting –, and the alleged use of “the Internet to find information on bio-medical researchers.” These acts are all protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The indictment was made possible because of a little known law called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). Passed by Congress in November, the AETA is aimed at suppressing speech and advocacy by criminalizing First Amendment-protected activities such as protests, boycotts, picketing and whistleblowing. It targets animal rights activists, but includes language so broad and vague it could be used to prosecute labor activists who organize a successful boycott of Wal-Mart, or union folks who picket a university cafeteria. Pushed through Congress by a powerful lobby of corporations and research institutions, the AETA is an unconstitutional law, because it criminalizes a broad swath of protected First Amendment activities and is so unclear as to fail to give people notice of whether or not their conduct is lawful. On this basis, CCR and the defense team have asked the Court to strike down the AETA as unconstitutional.

By their motion, CCR has attacked the AETA as facially unconstitutional on the grounds of “overbreadth” and “vagueness.”

by CCRJustice
Friday May 29th, 2009 10:23 AM
Here is a convenient online petition to Congress from the Center for Constitutional Rights, asking for a repeal of the regressive, unconstitutional Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. Please sign and spread widely:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/383/t/4089/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=27312
by Richard Marx
Tuesday Jul 14th, 2009 7:40 PM
Thanks for posting the link to the CCR petition.

It's outrageous that civil liberties experts warned Congress about the fact that this law could and would be used to suppress free speech activities and criminalize protest and dissent.

The entire Congress is responsible for passing this terrible bill:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Enterprise_Terrorism_Act

We need to remember this as we advocate for its repeal and consider challenging those who voted for it in elections. Those in public office hate nothing more than facing an electoral challenge where they have to defend their support for bills like this or the Patriot Act, or the Iraq invasion authorization and funding bills etc..

Activists have to use all the tools and electoral challenges are useful ones to continue to fight on specific issues in which we are engaged while also putting pressure on government officials to deliver real public services to the people. . .