Editor's Note: This letter is in response to the Aug. 8, 2013 Agri-Pulse article: "American Bar Association to vote on animal activist law," which did not mention any withdrawal of the resolution by IRR or any other association.
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Dear Editor:

We write to clarify a number of factual errors in your article. First, the sponsor of the resolution and report to repeal the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) was the American Bar Association’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR), not the New York City Bar Association. The City Bar supported the resolution as a co-sponsor.  Second, it was IRR that withdrew the resolution to allow more time to consider the issue; the City Bar has no power to do so.  Third, as for Blum v. Holder, the City Bar does not represent any parties in that litigation; rather, we filed a “friend of the court” brief asserting our position that the AETA is unconstitutionally vague, as did the American Civil Liberties Union.  That case is on appeal and awaits decision by the First Circuit. That said, we want to reiterate that the City Bar believes that the AETA, as drafted, impinges upon First Amendment rights. The City Bar does not condone acts of violence, or threats of violence, or the other actions that harm those who are involved in research and testing involving animals. However, the AETA can be used to prosecute conduct well beyond those acts. Protection against dangerous conduct can be provided under other federal or state laws, or if need be under an appropriately tailored federal law. However, as written, the AETA punishes pure speech.

Christine Mott

Chair, Animal Law Committee, New York City Bar Association

Sebastian Ricciardi

Chair, Civil Rights Committee, New York City Bar Association

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