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


Federal Court Rules NIH in Violation of CHIMP Act

photo of 2 chimpanzees at Chimp HavenThe United States District Court for the District of Maryland, Northern Division, recently ruled that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) violated the Chimpanzee Health, Improvement, Maintenance, and Protection (CHIMP) Act for not retiring former research chimpanzees to a sanctuary.  The CHIMP Act [Pub. L. No. 106-551, 12/20/2000; codified at 42 U.S.C. 283m] mandated the creation of a federal sanctuary system for the lifetime care of retired research chimpanzees.  Since 2002, the sanctuary has been operated by the private nonprofit Chimp Haven.  As a previous blog post noted, in late 2015, NIH announced it would no longer support biomedical research on chimpanzees and all NIH-owned chimpanzees living outside of Chimp Haven were now eligible for retirement.  In the ensuing years, NIH retired over 2/3 of its chimpanzees.  However, in 2019 and 2021, NIH announced many frail chimpanzees in its Alamogordo Primate Facility and Keeling Center for Comparative Medicine and Research (aka MD Anderson facility) would not be moved.  In 2021, several animal rights groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States, sued NIH.  In her recent ruling, Judge Lydia Kay Griggsby found the NIH did not have the discretion to determine which chimpanzees should not be moved and violated the CHIMP Act.  However, Judge Griggsby acknowledged NIH veterinarians’ concerns about moving old and chronically ill chimpanzees.  By 1/13/2023, both parties are to file reports with the court, then meet with Judge Griggsby on how to proceed.

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

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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.