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House Bill 720 — Personhood, animals, objects

House Bill 720 — Personhood, animals, objects

Parrish Miller
March 2, 2022

Bill Description: House Bill 720 would clarify that personhood and the rights it entails are reserved exclusively to human beings.

Rating: +1

Analyst Note: House Bill 720 is similar to House Bill 647, introduced earlier this session. House Bill 720 clarifies that the provisions of the bill do not apply to the legal status of municipalities, organizations, and businesses. 

There are various organizations, such as the Nonhuman Rights Project, that are actively engaging in litigation to have the concept of personhood ascribed to animals so they may have what are traditionally recognized as human rights. Such organizations have sued on behalf of numerous animals, including chimpanzees and elephants

In 2021, federal magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz in Cincinnati granted a request from the Animal Legal Defense Fund to recognize the offspring of hippos once owned by Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar as "interested persons" with associated legal rights.

In 2016, a lengthy essay by a pair of law professors at Rutgers, titled "The case against pets," summed up the ultimate goal of establishing "the personhood of non-humans", stating, "A morally just world would have no pets, no aquaria, no zoos. No fields of sheep, no barns of cows. That's true animal rights."

As tempting as it may be to view this legislation as an unnecessary statement of something that should be obvious, the disturbing trends mentioned above are only escalating, and they could have disastrous repercussions for humanity. 

Does it violate the spirit or the letter of either the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution? Examples include restrictions on speech, public assembly, the press, privacy, private property, or firearms. Conversely, does it restore or uphold the protections guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution or the Idaho Constitution?

Property rights are among our most fundamental, and they include the right to own and control animals, natural resources and technology. 

To protect these and other rights, House Bill 720 creates Section 5-346, Idaho Code, to definitively declare that "notwithstanding any other provisions of law, environmental elements, artificial intelligence, nonhuman animals, and inanimate objects shall not be granted personhood in the state of Idaho."

It further clarifies that nothing in this new law "revokes the status of legal person in or of any municipality, organization, corporation, or other legal or business entity recognized by the laws of the state of Idaho as such prior to July 1, 2022."


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