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News from the Nonhuman Rights Project

Dear Friends of the Nonhuman Rights Project,

Thank you, as always, for your help and support as we press ahead to have the first nonhumans recognized as persons with the capacity for certain basic rights. Here are some of the headlines for this month:

Common Law Flexibility Research Completed

We have completed researching and analyzing how common law courts in all 50 states have tended to behave in terms of their flexibility.

Also, a team of volunteers, mostly law students, looked at how state supreme court judges view the common law. We'll be analyzing their 500 pages of research to determine which states have sitting supreme court judges who hold the kinds of values that may lead them to rule for legal personhood for animals. This is a complex issue, but you can get a basic idea of it here and also from Steve's blog.

Updates from our Working Groups

Habeas Corpus Analysis: In December we will hold our final habeas corpus meeting where we will select our top five jurisdictions for habeas corpus purposes. Since habeas corpus is going to be our primary cause of action, this meeting will be crucial to selecting the jurisdiction(s) for our first court filings. For a recap of our previous habeas corpus meetings, see here and here. To learn more about habeas corpus see here.

Science Working Group: In an effort to ascertain precise evidence, Science Director Dr. Lori Marino is working with a group of volunteers to collect scientific papers on the intelligence, cognition, emotions and complex sociality in killer whales, chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos, and gorillas. This work will be the basis for our scientific evidence that certain nonhuman animals are entitled to be recognized as legal persons, and will be available to the public through an online Excel-based bibliography.

Sociology Working Group: At the end of February, the sociology group will meet to scrutinize the supreme court justices in each of the top five jurisdictions that were selected from our legal working groups. This will help us to decide in which jurisdiction(s) we will file our first suits.

"Personhood Beyond the Human"

Next year's "Personhood Beyond the Human" conference at Yale University will be exploring the evolving notions of personhood by analyzing them through the frameworks of neuroscience, behavioral science, philosophy, ethics, and law. The NhRP will present our research from the past five years, including research on the varying legal causes of action that we will use to argue legal personhood for specific nonhuman animals. The conference is scheduled for April 19-21, 2013.

Also in the News

Our first PSA, produced by "Cash Cab" Emmy-Award winner Tom Cohen, can be seen on our website, and is currently also being aired on Hulu and our YouTube channel.

Steve was interviewed for a Huffington Post article on animal rights. Take a look at our comment regarding the confusion between our approach and what other organizations are doing.

Executive Director Natalie Prosin is highlighted in her hometown newspaper.
Congratulations to Russell Tenofsky, our Volunteer of the Month.

Thank you again for your support and help in this effort to gain legal personhood for nonhuman animals. Your donations are very welcome and much appreciated. Together we shall make history!

If you have any questions or comments, please write to us at

Thank you again,
Natalie Prosin

Executive Director
Nonhuman Rights Project

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