PETA might think it's on "the next frontier of civil rights" with its lawsuit seeking to emancipate SeaWorld's "whale slaves," but a federal judge presiding over a hearing yesterday was a bit more skeptical, reports the LA Times. The animal-rights group, perhaps better known for publicity stunts than serious litigation, is suing for the release of five orcas on the basis that their captivity violates the 13th Amendment's ban on slavery. Judge Jeffrey Miller appeared to side with SeaWorld's contention that killer whales are, well, animals, and thus not covered under the Constitution.
SeaWorld's lawyer blasted PETA, saying that the case ignored "125 years of case law applying the 13th Amendment," not to mention "common sense." The theme park argues that freeing the whales would create a slippery slope that could extend to police dogs and other service animals. Miller has taken the case under review, but set no date for a decision. Nevertheless, PETA appeared pleased just to have had its day in court, with a spokesman calling it, "a truly historic day for the law and for the animals." (Read more Sea World stories.)