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Wed Jul 15 2009 (Updated 07/16/09)Oral Arguments Presented on Motion to Overturn AETA
Wed Jul 15 2009 (Updated 07/16/09)Rights Attorneys Argue Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Is an Unconstitutionally Vague Law
On July 13th, defense attorneys for Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope and Adriana Stumpo (the AETA 4) presented oral arguments on their motion to strike down the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). The AETA 4 are being represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Civil Liberties Defense Center (CLDC), and other well-respected civil rights attorneys, including Tony Serra. The defense demanded that AETA be struck down as unconstitutional before Judge Ronald Whyte of the United States District Court, Northern District of California in San Jose.
The AETA is being used for the first time since its passage by Congress in 2006 to do exactly what civil rights advocates feared it would do - criminalize activities protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The oral arguments presented on July 13th were not about the allegations as directly applied to the AETA 4, but rather that the whole case should be dismissed now because AETA itself is unconstitutional.
"The AETA is so overbroad and vague that picketers protesting labor practices at WalMart who mount a successful boycott could be charged with animal enterprise terrorism because WalMart sells lunch meat," said CCR Cooperating Attorney Matthew Strugar. "And it is impossible to know from the language of the law whether your activities might be covered. The AETA is unconstitutional, and if it remains on the books it will be a genuine threat to free speech."The court did not make any decison at this time. The next court hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 14th. Read more
Also see: Petition to Congress: Repeal the AETA | Rights Attorneys File Motion Saying AETA Indictment in Violation of First Amendment | Activists Arrested for Chalking Sidewalks, Protesting with Bandanas, and Leaflet Distribution