Cass Sunstein: Radical Animal Rights Activist, or Just Someone with Ethics and Common Sense
There’s been a lot of hype over Obama’s nomination of Cass Sunstein for Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), a.k.a. “Regulatory Czar,” since this is the office that reviews every federal regulation issued across the government.
Sunstein, a Harvard Law School Professor, is a well-known, respected and often cited legal scholar. If he is confirmed, he will end up supervising consumer safety, health and environmental regulations.
So what’s all the fuss about Sunstein? Well, it would appear the man actually supports animal welfare, and not only that, but he supports consumer freedom…as in, consumers have a right to know what they’re actually buying.
Those sound like wonderful qualities right? They are if you’re a citizen who is concerned with how our animals treated and want to know where your money is going. However, there are some individuals and big groups against Sunstein for this position.
Back in January an article came out in Mother Jones by Jonathan Stein about the opposition to Sunstein’s nomination, which highlighted some interesting facts.
For starters, a huge opponent of Sunstein is the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), which sounds like a nice wholesome group, that is until you take a closer look and see who’s running it.
CCF is run by Richard Berman, who has worked on campaigns such as fighting the creation of nonsmoking sections in restaurants, which was funded by none other than Philip Morris.
CCF also loves bacon and hot dogs and calls the Journal of American Medical Association’s findings on links to diabetes and soda garbage. Hmmm…
Back to the real objection being that Sunstein actually has the audacity to stand up and take the following positions on animal welfare:
“In a 2002 working paper Sunstein authored at the University of Chicago, he wrote, “[T]here should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment, scientific experiments, and agriculture.” In a 2004 book that he coedited and contributed to, Animal Rights: Current Debates and New Directions, he wrote, “Animals should be permitted to bring suit, with human beings as their representatives…Any animals that are entitled to bring suit would be represented by (human) counsel, who would owe guardian-like obligations and make decisions, subject to those obligations, on their clients’ behalf.” And during a 2007 panel discussion at Harvard on animal rights, Sunstein said hunting for “sport and fun”—not for food—should be “against the law” and that greyhound racing, cosmetic testing on animals, and the eating of meat raised in inhumane conditions ought to be eliminated. He also said at the panel that the current treatment of livestock and other animals should be considered “a form of unconscionable barbarity not the same as, but in many ways morally akin to, slavery and mass extermination of human beings,” according to Stein.
Gasp! Wait, actually that doesn’t sound all that radical. It sounds like someone with a sense of ethics and a conscience at work.
Unfortunately, as other senators put a hold on Sunstein’s nomination, headlines such as, “Animals Can Sue People,” are all the rage. As if Sunstein has painted a picture of a dog or an elephant walking into a courtroom with a briefcase fully prepared for litigation against his or her offender.
That wasn’t his point at all. His point was that people should have the standing to take legal action on behalf of animals who are suffering, or where welfare laws aren’t being upheld, which would actually solve a huge problem regarding the lack of enforcement of our current animal welfare laws.