[Wall Street Journal]
In response to attacks on
researchers by animal-rights activists,
Congress in 2006 passed the Animal
Enterprise Terrorism Act. The bill
made a critical change to the legislation
it replaced: Demonstrators
could now earn a sentence in federal prison if the
target of their
attention felt threatened, regardless of the protesters'
The law has emerged as a central example of how
Congress has eroded
the legal concept of mens rea, which is Latin for "guilty
long-held protection that says a defendant must know they've done
something wrong to be found guilty of it.