Should the Thirteenth Amendment, which outlaws slavery and involuntary servitude in the Unites States, apply to non-human animals such as whales? Not according to U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller, who earlier this week dismissed a case by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that alleged five orca whales owned by Sea World in California and Florida were living under involuntary servitude.

As PETA attorney Jeffrey Kerr told the Huffington Post, the animal rights group’s case was based on the belief that:

“slavery doesn’t depend upon the species of the slave, any more than it depends upon the race, gender or ethnicity of the slave. SeaWorld’s attempts to deny [orcas] the protection solely based on their species is the same kind of prejudice used to justify any enslavement. And prejudice should not be what determines constitutional rights in this country … Because they can suffer from the prohibitive conduct of being enslaved, the 13th Amendment protection against that conduct should be extended to them.”

However, Miller dismissed that argument, writing that “the only reasonable interpretation of the Thirteenth Amendment’s plain language is that it applies to persons, and not to non-persons such as orcas.”

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