In this Article, I contend that a belief in animal liberation qualifies as religion under the Free Exercise Clause jurisprudence of the United States Constitution. Thus, every time a prison warden, public school teacher or administrator, or government employer refuses to accommodate the ethical belief of an animal liberationist, they are infringing on that person's religious freedom, and they should have to satisfy the same constitutional or statutory requirements that would adhere were the asserted interest based on more traditional religious exercise. One possible solution to the widespread violations of the First Amendment rights of animal liberationists would be the incorporation of a 'Church of Animal Liberation' under the Internal Revenue Code (as a proper church or as a religious organization). This would help to protect the free exercise rights of those who believe in animal rights because it would give them a religious organization-to reference with articles of incorporation that align with the jurisprudential definition of religion-in making their requests for religious accommodation. First, this Article discusses the constitutional definition of religion, what it means to believe in animal liberation, and animal liberation beliefs that circuit court precedent already recognizes as religious. Then, it discusses how animal liberation-based free exercise conflicts would play out in practice (e.g., identifying when infringing on the rights of animal liberationists would require strict scrutiny and when it would not). Lastly, this Article suggests that incorporating a group (e.g., a 'Church of Animal Liberation') as a religious organization under the Internal Revenue Code might help to secure constitutional rights for animal liberationists, and explains what would be required to incorporate such an organization.
The Church of Animal Liberation: Rights as 'Religion' Under the Free Exercise Clause,
Animal L. Rev.
Available at: https://lawcommons.lclark.edu/alr/vol21/iss1/4