Obama's pick for head of the Office of Management and Budget's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, is coming up against some hurdles because of his animal protection views. Sunstein is a Harvard Law professor, who used to be a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.
According to GovernmentExecutive.com:
In May, nine farm and ranch groups that produce products such as milk and veal -- including the American Farm Bureau Federation -- wrote to Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and others to "express concern" about three academic papers in which Sunstein urged regulation of animals used in industries, including agriculture.
Roberts spoke to Sunstein, who said that he has no plans to regulate animal agriculture. That's too bad, because it needs to be regulated. If not for animal rights reasons (many animal activists believe in promoting veganism, not reforms), at least for environmental reasons.
Sunstein has been involved in the animal protection movement for a while. He has co-edited a pro-animal book titled, "Animal Rights, Current Debates and New Directions" (Buy Direct). A May, 2003 article in E Magazine about the increasing popularity of animal law stated, "Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago argued that animals regarded as property can still have rights under the law and that 'our culture is much more interested in protecting animals than our laws are.'" In a 2004 article in Time magazine about the same subject, Sunstein was quoted as saying, "There is a universal agreement that animal suffering matters. Even those who think they despise the notion of animal rights think that suffering and cruelty are problems." Sunstein has also reportedly stated that animals should have standing to bring lawsuits, and that hunting for sport should be banned.
But is Sunstein a "radical animal rights supporter," as the National Review would have us believe? If he is, he hasn't gone public with his views. The idea of banning sport hunting is not radical, because it would still allow hunting for food. The pros and cons of allowing standing for animals to sue has been discussed by legal scholars, and a federal court held in 2004, "nothing in the text of Article III explicitly limits the ability to bring a claim in federal court to humans," although it refrained from giving whales and dolphins the right to sue in that particular case.
It's very possible that Sunstein's views on animals are just an excuse to hold up the nomination. Republicans are being accused of holding up approximately two dozen appointments in the Obama administration. Senator Bernie Sanders, (I, VT) said, "You are trying to make the administration as crippled as you possibly can by limiting the number of people you have."
Sunstein has said, "[Y]ou're going to see more people practicing law who are committed to the well-being of animals. And that's going to have a huge impact." Whatever the reasons behind the delay, I hope Sunstein will be appointed shortly, and I hope having an animal advocate in the Obama administration does have an impact.
- Is Obama Good for Animals?
- Cetacean Community v. George W. Bush
- Why shouldn’t animals be considered “property” under the law?
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