The conviction of the SHAC 7�animal rights activists hit with
"terrorism" charges for publishing a website and vocally,
unapologetically supporting direct action�has been upheld by a U.S.
appellate court. It is a landmark free speech ruling that lowers the
threshold of what types of conduct are protected by the First
Amendment, and upholds a law that is so broad that it targets civil
disobedience as "terrorism."
As a brief introduction: The "SHAC 7" of Stop Huntingdon Animal
Cruelty ran an effective campaign that had the sole purpose of putting
Huntingdon Life Sciences, a notorious animal testing company, out of
business. The campaign pressured corporations to sever ties with the
lab. The SHAC 7 were never accused of breaking windows or releasing
animals from labs, but they supported those who did. They published a
website which posted news of both legal and illegal tactics, and
supported all of it. The website had also posted names and addresses
of individuals connected to the corporations targeted.
The ruling was issued today and, although there are many aspects that
deserve attention, I want to walk through what I think are by far the
most dangerous and troubling implications of this ruling�those related
to the First Amendment:
A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld the convictions of six
activists, including a Hamilton resident, found guilty of using their
internet website to incite threats and harassment against a company
that tests products on animals.
Employees of Huntingdon Life Sciences found themselves besieged with
attacks by animal rights activists after the postings. One Montgomery
woman, Carol Auletta, who worked at the company�s offices in Franklin
Township, had testified the harassment continued for at least a year,
from 2002 to 2003, at her home and in downtown Princeton Borough.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia yesterday found
that the young adults � acting under the name Stop Huntingdon Animal
Cruelty (SHAC) � conspired to commit animal enterprise terrorism and
interstate stalking in their campaign against Huntingdon.