Meeting the Standards We Set for OurselvesPosted by Carter Dillard, ALDF's Director of Litigation on January 24th, 2011
Recently, Animal Legal Defense Fund attorneys filed suit against the state of Texas in the case Doe v. Suehs. The suit alleges that the state has done nothing to ensure that companies that produce eggs in the state comply with a state law which, in no uncertain terms, requires egg producers to not keep hens in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, and to attend to dead, injured, and ill hens. Our suit was prompted by an investigation conducted by the Humane Society of the United States which showed row upon row of filthy cages literally stuffed with hens, many of whom were diseased and injured. It also showed dead hens, left to rot among the living.
Video courtesy of The Humane Society of the United States
The suit simply asks for the state to take some action to help companies follow the law, a law which sets out minimal standards for the treatment of animals who do nothing but live lives of suffering to produce money for their captors. As in any case of this sort, the litigation shows us the horror of factory farming.
But this case will also show us something about hypocrisy because it asks for the residents of Texas to actually live according to the rules they have set for themselves, to live up to the image they have of themselves as reflected in the law. As Americans we have a view of ourselves as respecting free speech because we actually comply with the first constitutional amendment, a law that requires us to respect free speech and which tells the world the way we wish to be. In the same way the law at the heart of Doe v. Suehs tells us that the people of Texas are good enough to extend some minimal level of welfare to the animals they use. If at the end of the suit the state does not comply, for whatever reason, it will remain not only cruel, but will be telling itself and the world it does and should live in one way, while it goes on living in another.
In some cases the law can tell us something about the way we wish to see ourselves, and wish others to see us. Texas now has an opportunity to meet the image it has set for itself. Whether it chooses to do so remains to be seen.