News and information useful to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law students, faculty and staff.

NIH Ends Support of Biomedical Research on Chimpanzees

photo of 2 chimpanzees at Chimp HavenThe Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, has just announced that the NIH will no longer support biomedical research on chimpanzees. This decision follows the recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service final rule (80 Fed. Reg. 34500, 6/16/15) that listed all chimpanzees – not just wild chimpanzees – as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, as well as the 6/26/13 decision by NIH to significantly reduce the use of chimpanzees in research, and the 12/15/11 decision by NIH to accept an Institute of Medicine report that, while a few specific areas “may continue to require the use of chimpanzees, … most current use of chimpanzees for biomedical research is unnecessary.” In June 2013, the NIH planned “to retain but not breed up to 50 chimpanzees for future biomedical research,” and retired chimpanzees were eligible for move to the Federal Sanctuary System. [See also 42 C.F.R. 9, Standards of Care for Chimpanzees Held in the Federally Supported Sanctuary System.] The NIH will now retire the 50 chimpanzees, and they will be relocated to the Federal Sanctuary System “as space is available and on a timescale that will allow for optimal transition of each individual chimpanzee with careful consideration of their welfare, including their health and social grouping.”

Idaho’s Ag-Gag Law Overturned on Free Speech Grounds


Seven states – Iowa, Utah, Indiana, Montana, Kansas, North Dakota and Idaho – have enacted so-called ag-gag laws which make it a crime to produce undercover videos of animal abuse on factory farms. A recent Idaho district court decision from August 3rd (Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter, 2015 WL 4623943, available through Google Scholar) struck Idaho’s law. In this first court challenge to ag-gag laws, the judge recognized that while groups secretly recording videos of animal abuse and posting them online in order to call for boycotts may not be popular with the state of Idaho, the state “cannot deny such groups equal protection of the laws in their exercise of their right to free speech.”

New CALI Lesson on Breed-Discriminatory Legislation

pitbullLaws that ban or otherwise restrict the ownership of dogs based on their breeds, known as “breed-discriminatory legislation,” is the subject of a new CALI lesson. This one-hour lesson covers substantive due process, judicial scrutiny, the history of breed-discriminatory legislation, and public safety issues.

CALI offers law students and recent grads an extensive library of self-paced tutorials on a wide range of topics, including 1L subjects, upper level topics, and lessons geared to specific casebooks. Use the school’s law student registration instructions if you’re not already registered for CALI to access the tutorials.

Animal Rights Update

Gerald_G_Gorilla_with_ColourLast year, we posted an article about a lawsuit aimed at recognizing rights of a caged chimp. Unfortunately for the caged chimp he has lost his appeal and will continue to live alone in a cage. However, the chimps’ lawyer will appeal to the state’s highest court. The Nonhuman Rights Project, who sponsored the suit have stated: “This is just the first appellate decision in a long-term strategic campaign” to win rights for chimps and other intelligent animals.”

A related article finds a nonhuman plaintiff winning a case. This time, an orangutan held in an Argentine zoo can be freed and transferred to a sanctuary after a court recognized the ape as a “non-human person” unlawfully deprived of its freedom.

Animal Welfare Issue Addressed by WTO Sent to Appeal

In November 2013, panel established under the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement body issued a report in the EC – Seal Products dispute. Under the EU Seal Regime, the European Union banned seal products from commercial seal hunts, based on concern for seal welfare. There was an exception for products from hunts by indigenous communities and one for the by-products of marine resource management culls. Norway and Canada challenged the EU commercial seal products ban.

In the panel decision, the WTO applied the “public morals” justification for restriction on international trade in a novel context – the protection of animal welfare. This decision was applauded by animal welfare organizations such as Humane Society International, which coauthored an amicus brief in the dispute and showed video footage of commercial seal hunts at the WTO panel.

Norway and Canada claim that the indigenous communities and marine resource management cull exceptions are unfair because they essentially allow most seal products from others countries like Greenland, Finland and Sweden, while restricting Norwegian and Canadian seal products. Norway and Canada will appeal to the WTO Appellate Body.

For more information, see the ASIL Insights article “Animal Welfare, Public Morals and Trade: the WTO Panel Report in EC – Seal Products.