Today, attorneys representing animal rights activists Kevin Johnson and Tyler Lang filed a motion to dismiss the indictment charging them with violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). The motion asserts that the AETA is unconstitutional.
Kevin Johnson is represented by Michael Deutsch of People’s Law Office with co-counsel National Lawyers Guild member Lillian McCartin and Rachel Meerpool of Center for Constitutional Rights. Tyler Lang is represented by Geoffry Meyer of the Federal Defender Program.
Kevin and Tyler are both animal rights activists and were indicted in July. The government alleges that last year they released mink from a fur farm in rural Illinois and conspired to release fox from another fur farm. The government claims that this non-violent act of releasing animals constitutes “terrorism.” They each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The AETA, which we have written about before, was passed by Congress and signed into law in 2006, amending and expanding the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA). The act makes “damaging or interfering with the operations of an animal enterprise” or “intentionally plac[ing] a person in fear of death or serious bodily injury” federal crimes of terrorism.
The motion filed today argues that the AETA is unconstitutional because it makes no distinction between loss caused by criminal acts and loss caused by boycotts and other constitutionally-protected activity, and that, in any event, punishing non-violent activity as “terrorism” is an unconstitutional denial of due process.
Our work representing Kevin Johnson is part of our continued commitment to combating state repression and defending activists who are labeled “terrorists” based on their political beliefs.
For more information on the case:
Read the Motion to Dismiss and Indictment
Read more about our work fighting political repression and representing activists
Read about our representation of Scott DeMuth, who was charged under the AEPA.
“Freeing Animals is Not ‘Terrorism'” by CCR
Read CCR’s case page: US v. Johnson