Clown show: New York court rules that “Happy” the elephant isn’t a human, doesn’t have “personhood” rights


By Larry Keane and our friends at NSSF

New York’s highest court – the New York Court of Appeals – rejected by a 5-2 decision the anti-hunting group Nonhuman Rights Project’s (NhRP) lawsuit claiming Happy the Elephant isn’t an animal and instead had “personhood” rights and is being held by the Bronx Zoo against her will.

“While no one disputes the impressive capabilities of elephants, we reject petitioner’s arguments that it is entitled to seek the remedy of habeas corpus on Happy’s behalf,” Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wrote. “Habeas corpus is a procedural vehicle intended to secure the liberty rights of human beings who are unlawfully restrained, not nonhuman animals.”

The court’s decision was the most recent rejection of the anti-hunting group’s attempt to assign personhood to animals.

Hunting & Conservation

Judge Rowan Wilson wrote in a dissenting opinion that the court had a duty “to recognize Happy’s right to petition for her liberty,” not just because “she is a wild animal who is not meant to be caged and displayed, but because the rights we confer on others define who we are as a society.”

The court’s majority, of course, disagreed. People uniquely have rights in America. This is why the case mattered for the hunting, conservation, wildlife management and animal agriculture communities.

Judges appeared irritated when they first heard the case last month before rendering their decision. Judge Jenny Rivera questioned the Nonhuman Rights Project, Inc. (NhRP) attorneys, asking:

“If Happy is a person, does that mean that I couldn’t keep a dog? I mean, dogs can memorize words.”

If the court decided Happy did indeed possess personhood rights, the floodgate would open for future lawsuits against other zoos. Animal rights groups could sue dairy cow or meat processing operations, pig farms, or chicken or pheasant preserves.

The New York Farm Bureau even submitted an amicus brief in favor of the Bronx Zoo warning that a ruling in NhRP’s favor could be disastrous.

“Worse, if any of those habeas petitions succeed in securing the release or transfer of livestock… the downstream effects also would be serious.”

That would also be an obstacle to hunters harvesting wild game for their freezers and wildlife management biologists that rely on hunting as a wildlife conservation management tool.

Long Road

Happy came to the Bronx Zoo in 1977. Happy is a 50-year-old elephant in the care of zookeepers, well-fed, bathed and watched over. Happy even has a social life with visitors and other elephants.

That didn’t stop NhRP from bringing Happy’s case to court in 2018. “She’s a depressed, screwed-up elephant,” said NhRP’s founder. The group wasted the court’s time and resources with junk suits in 2018 and 2020, both times the court rejecting their claims.

This final stage was set when an appellate court agreed with the ruling of a lower court, which brought the case to the New York Court of Appeals. Happy has remained at the Bronx Zoo this entire time.

NhRP would be wise to take the loss and stop there. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation demonstrates that when a society puts intrinsic value on wildlife, those species prosper. NhRP’s goal wasn’t to free Happy.

It was to force a radical anti-hunting agenda by judicial precedent that would disenfranchise hunters – the original conservationists.

Clown world: California appellate rules that bumblebees are not insects, instead are considered “fish”

The following includes editorial content which is the opinion of the writer. 

SACRAMENTO, CA- The abject stupidity that comes out of the state of California is immeasurable. With each idiotic story that comes out of the “land of fruits and nuts,” the state writes its own satire story worthy of the Babylon Bee.

The latest comes to us courtesy of the Washington Examiner, which reports that an appellate court in that state just ruled that bees are to be legally considered under the same general definition as fish. Seriously.

The three judge panel on the wacky state’s Third Appellate District Court made the decision in the case of four species of bees at risk of becoming endangered.

“The issue presented here is whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish, as that term is used in the definitions of endangered species” in California’s Endangered Species Act.

The case came about after the California Fish and Game Commission decided in 2019 to protect the four species of bumblebees under the act, according to Law & Crime.

The motion was obviously opposed by local agricultural groups, which made the sane claim that the act doesn’t allow the commission to designate insects as endangered, threatened, or candidate species due to them not being included in the act’s wildlife categories, the Examiner said.

The commission meanwhile argued that the definitions provided include insects under the act’s definition of fish. This, they reasoned, is because one species of snail is considered threatened under the act.

The act defines fish as a “wild fish, mollusk, crustacean, invertebrate, amphibian, or part, spawn, or ovum of any of those animals.” Since a bee is defined as an invertebrate, they argue, it is therefore legally understandable to define the bumblebees as fish, the commission argued.

The appeals panel court, which have apparently been smoking too much of the newly legalized dope, agreed with the commission and overturned the lower-court decision.

“Although the term fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer to aquatic species, the term of art employed by the Legislature in the definition of fish…is not so limited,” the court argued. “Accordingly, a terrestrial invertebrate, like each of the four bumble bee species, may be listed as an endangered of threatened species under the Act.”

This should hardly come as a surprise. After all, liberals somehow believe that men are capable of giving birth so why shouldn’t we expect them to believe an insect is a fish?

The Daily Caller further reported the ruling:

“We acknowledge the scope of the definition is ambiguous but also recognize we are not interpreting the definition on a blank slate,” the court’s ruling stated. “The legislative history supports the liberal interpretation of the Act (the lens through which we are required to construe the Act) that the Commission may list any invertebrate as an endangered or threatened species.”

“Furthermore, limiting the term to aquatic would require a restrictive rather than liberal interpretation of the Act, which is also directly at odds with our duty to liberally construe the remedial statutes contained therein,” the panel wrote. “We thus decline to apply the statutory interpretation canon here.”

The Commission in 2019 voted 3-1 in favor of listing the Crotch, Franklin’s Suckley cuckoo and western bumble bees as endangered species, which marked the first time insects were afforded such protection.

The Almond Alliance of California (AAC), which represents the state’s almond industry, led a coalition of various agriculture groups rising in opposition to the classification, noting it would place an overwhelming financial strain on nut growers who use pesticides, the Pacific Nut Producer reported.

This ruling is just the latest blow to an agriculture industry reeling from the costs of inflation and energy prices.

“In an age where grocery store shelves are already empty, where we’re struggling with high inflation and the cost of food here in California, something like this—the cost of food will go up because you’re going to have to chuck it in from somewhere the bee is not listed as an endangered species,” said AAC President and CEO Audrey Bettencourt to the Daily Caller.

“We’re in a drought, and we have the highest water restrictions in the country, anywhere in the world almost, to be able to even irrigate to bring that crop to you,” she continued. “So the inputs to farming are increasingly more expensive, because they are not considered a priority.”

Bettencourt said it was as yet unknown if the coalition would appeal the appellate ruling. The Almond Alliance and other plaintiffs filed the original suit which had been upheld in the lower court.

The Daily Caller said the Fish & Game Commission refused to comment for the story.

Occasionally a California court comes through with a “normal” ruling. For more on that, we invite you to:


VENTURA COUNTY, CA- On Thursday, January 20th, the Ninth Circuit federal appeals court ruled that the coronavirus lockdowns of gun stores in Ventura County, California violated constitutional rights.

The case was appealed to the Ninth Circuit after the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rejected a claim that Ventura’s County coronavirus orders closing gun stores, ammo shops, and gun ranges violated Second Amendment rights.

A three-judge panel that included Judges Lawrence Vandyke and Andrew Kleinfeld, reversed the lower court. Vandyke and Kleinfeld wrote:

“Ultimately, the issue boils down to the County’s designation of ‘essential’ versus ‘non-essential’ businesses and activities. While courts should afford some measure of deference to local policy determinations, ‘the enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table’ Heller, 554 U.S.”

They added:

“When a government completely bans all acquisition of firearms and ammunition by closing gun shops, ammunition shops, and firing ranges, it’s one of those off-limits policy choices squarely contemplated by Heller. See id. at 630. The Orders cannot satisfy strict scrutiny.”

The judges also noted:

“Not only did Appellees fail to provide any evidence or explanation suggesting that gun shops, ammunition shops, and firing ranges posed a greater risk of spreading COVID-19 than other businesses and activities deemed ‘essential,’ but they also failed to provide any evidence that they considered less restrictive alternatives for the general public.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported that Vandyke also wrote that the Second Amendment “means nothing if the government can prohibit all persons from acquiring any firearm or ammunition.” He added, “But that’s what happened in this case.”

He wrote that because buyers can obtain guns only by personally going to gun stores in California, Ventura County’s 48-day closure of gun shows, ammunition shops, and firing ranges “wholly prevented law-abiding citizens in the County from realizing their right to keep and bear arms.”

Michael Jean, director of the National Rifle Association’s office of Litigation Counsel, said that the court’s decision holds that governments “cannot use a crisis to trample on the Constitutional rights of citizens.” His office sued in the Los Angeles County case and in the Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties over their restrictions in Northern California.

Ventura County spokeswoman Ashley Bautista said in an email:

“Ventura County believes this case was correctly decided at the District Court level and is disappointed with the three-judge panel’s decision.”

She added that officials are reviewing the decision and “evaluating options and next steps.”

Judge Ryan Nelson was the panel’s dissenting voice. The case is McDougall v. County of Ventura, No. 20-562220 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in the Ninth Circuit.

Firearms Policy Coalition vice president of programs Adam Kraut said in a statement that the cases resulted “when authoritarian governments used COVID as an excuse to attack Second Amendment rights.” He said that the Ninth Circuit opinions “confirm our claims that the COVID closures of gun stores and firing ranges violated the Second Amendment rights of Californians.”

Reportedly, similar restrictions were imposed in 10 other states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, and Virginia.

Three gun-owner rights groups and several individuals and businesses had sought to overturn the lower court rulings in California.

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Huge Second Amendment win! Californians can keep their ‘high-capacity’ magazines – for now

December 23rd, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – For the time being, California gun owners can enjoy a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that disallows enforcement of California’s ban on so-called “large-capacity” magazines.

In 2016, California voters approved a “large-capacity” magazine ban, which meant that gun owners could not be in possession of a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

That law has been contested since its passing, and the courts have seen rulings for and against the ban.

In July of 2017, according to Breitbart, District Court Judge Roger Benitez ruled against the “large-capacity” magazine ban.  That ruling was upheld the following year by the Ninth Circuit.

Benitez again ruled against the ban in March of 2019, and in August 2020, the Ninth Circuit agreed, ruling that the ban was unconstitutional.

However, in November of 2021, the Ninth Circuit held an en banc hearing on the case, meaning all the judges were present for the ruling.

In a split decision, the judges ruled 7-4 in favor of the “large-capacity” magazine ban.

According to, the majority stated that:

“the limitation interferes only minimally with the core right of self-defense, as there is no evidence that anyone ever has been unable to defend his or her home and family due to the lack of a large-capacity magazine; and … the limitation saves lives.”

Also according to, California Attorney General Rob Bonta was pleased with the ruling, calling it “a victory for public safety in California.”

Bonta also “called California’s ban on large-capacity magazines a commonsense way to confront ‘an epidemic’ of gun violence ‘including devastating mass shootings.’”

In a dissenting opinion, Ninth Circuit Judge Patrick Bumatay noted that “large-capacity magazines are ‘commonly used’ by Americans for self-defense.”

He added:

“Indeed, these magazines are lawfully owned by millions of people nationwide and come standard on the most popular firearms sold today.”

Bumatay continued:

“If California’s law applied nationwide, it would require confiscating half of all existing firearms magazines in this country.”

Two other judges joined Bumatay in this opinion, and another judge wrote a different dissenting opinion.

Of the 11 judges on the panel, seven were appointed by Democratic presidents.

Chuck Michel, the California Rifle & Pistol Association’s (CRPA) president and general counsel, spoke of a division on the panel when he discussed the ruling for the ban, saying:

“The panel is bitterly factioned, and the dissenting judges are all suggesting that the Supreme Court needs to take this case to explain how a Second Amendment challenge should be reviewed.”

Shaq, on teaching his kids to respect the police: 'Respect that man putting his life on the line for this country.'

He added:

“We’re disappointed but not surprised that this particular 11-judge panel had the numbers to overturn the lower court decision.

“But the fight is far from over.”

Indeed, the CRPA was immediately back in the fight.

As reported by the CRPA’s website:

“Plaintiffs, including CRPA, acted quickly and filed a Motion to Stay Mandate which would keep the status quo in place while a Writ of Certiorari [order by which a higher court reviews a lower court decision] is filed with the Supreme Court to appeal the decision of the en banc panel.”

The plaintiffs were successful in their efforts and the Ninth Circuit ruled in their favor.

The ruling read:

“Appellees’ unopposed motion to partially stay issuance of the mandate, Docket No. 192, is GRANTED.

“The mandate is partially stayed for a period of 150 days from the date of this order.

“If Appellees file a petition for certiorari with the United States Supreme Court during the period of partial stay, the partial stay shall continue until final disposition by the Supreme Court.”

According to the CRPA:

“With this Stay of Mandate granted by the court, it essentially means everything carries on as it has for the past several years.

“Those individual (sic) who lawfully own or possess magazines holding more than 10 rounds are allowed to keep them while the case is appealed.”

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Meanwhile, the results of California’s “bail reform” underscore the need for law-abiding gun owners to have the ability to defend themselves.  For more on the consequences of “bail reform,” we invite you to continue reading below:

Now California: Police, mayor question why judges released murder suspects with little or no bail

Originally published December 2, 2021

SAN JOSE, CA — Since August, three suspects in two different homicide cases have been released by judges with either little or no bail.

As a result, police officials and even the mayor have gotten upset about the decisions to release murder suspects back to the streets of San Jose.

California’s new bail reform process has made it easier to release suspects. While some blame judges, others blame the law involved.

Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to keep someone in custody just because they cannot afford to pay bail, according to a report by FOX11.

In addition, the report noted:

“Judges are now required to favor pretrial release and only order bail if there is clear and convincing evidence that it is the only way to ensure public safety and make certain that the defendant returns to court for future hearings.

“The defendant’s ability to pay must be taken into account in setting bail.”

In a recent homicide case, two suspects were charged in a fatal shooting on Halloween, but released without bail.

Efrain Anzures, 27,  is charged with murder for what police describe as a hit-and-run road rage incident on Oct. 31, according to a report by NBC Bay Area.

Court documents show Judge Phillip Pennypacker put Anzures on house arrest, according to NBC’s report.

In addition, the judge only imposed a few restrictions, such as the suspect staying away from the victim’s family, submitting to searches and attending drug and alcohol counseling.

Anzures’ alleged accomplice, Alfred Castillo, 26, was also released through the Supervised Own Recognizance Program (SORP).

SORP allows suspects to be released while their cases go through the legal process.

Anzures and Castillo are suspects in the slaying of Isiah Gonzalez. Newsbreak reported:

“Anzures has been charged with murder and a charging enhancement for allegedly using a gun.

“Meanwhile, Castillo has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon for using his car in the alleged crime.

“The shooting happened at around 3:40 p.m. Halloween in the 5200 block of Great Oaks Parkway.

“San Jose police said officers arrived to find a man suffering from at least one gunshot wound. He was taken to a hospital where he died of his injuries.”

In a separate case, another murder suspect was released through SORP.

Margarita Santillan is facing murder charges for a killing on Aug. 11 on Littlewood Lane. She was also placed under SORP by Judge Shelyna Brown, who added a $100,000 bond.

San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata told NBC that suspects charged with murder or accessory to murder are being released by judges with little or no bail. The chief said their releases pose a serious threat to the community.

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Mata, who is a former homicide detective, also said he was “shocked” by the judges’ handling of murder suspects:

“This is the ultimate crime. This is murder. Someone took it upon themselves to kill another individual.

“This is difficult. We can only do so much. But we need help.”

The chief said it is demoralizing to arrest accused killers and then see them back on the streets within a few days.

San Jose Police Asst. Chief Paul Joseph told Newsbreak:

“The judges are probably following, to the best of their belief, what they think the law compels them to do, but if that’s what the law compels them to do, then the law needs to be changed. There’s a problem with the law.”

Even San Jose’s mayor, Sam Liccardo, expressed outrage over the latest release of homicide suspects. He tweeted:

“I appreciate the purpose of bail reform, but releasing a homicide suspect without bail is outrageous.

“The pendulum has swung too far, and it’s our neighborhoods that endure the most crime that suffer as a result.”

Liccardo also told Newsbreak he worries that the community is being put at risk:

“This is just dangerous for everyone and we need the judicial system to be able to understand and appreciate the public safety peril that is created by these decisions.”

Newsbreak reported that Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen echoed Liccardo’s sentiments through a statement:

“People accused of low-level non-violent crimes can be released with appropriate conditions.

“Defendants facing murder charges are a danger the community and a flight risk and should not be released.”

San Jose has had 30 homicides so far this year, with the latest one occurring on Dec. 1.

Legal analyst Steven Clark reviewed the cases of the suspects and told NBC:

“It appears there is a colorable self-defense component in both cases. These people did not have serious records, and they have no history of failure to appear.”

Clark also noted that due to the California Supreme Court’s ruling, he expects to see more murder suspects released on SORP in the future:

“It’s no longer a rubber stamp to keep someone in jail, even though the charges here are extremely serious.”

Clark further noted that two criteria are considered before pretrial release: is a suspect considered safe enough for the community and will that person show up for future court dates?

If the judge feels both are true, Clark said the suspect legally must be granted supervised release:

“Until you’ve been convicted of something, you should be given the opportunity to be considered for some sort of pretrial release otherwise, you have to fight your case in custody while everyone else who has money has to fight their case after posting bail.”

NBC reached out to the Superior Court, but was told comments on specific cases cannot be provided.

The Superior Court, however, released a statement regarding pretrial release of suspects and assured NBC that a judge reviews each case to see if it’s safe to release a suspect with proper supervision:

“Every judge reviewing a case for release is required to give individualized consideration to the person appearing before them, and to consider whether non-monetary or other conditions of release are sufficient to protect both the alleged victim and the public, and to ensure the defendant’s appearance in court.

“Supervised release with conditions, including but not limited to electronic monitoring, is a significant tool in that regard.

“A defendant charged with a serious or violent offense may not be released on other than scheduled bail until a hearing is held in open court.”

Chief Mata said better solutions are needed:

“This isn’t reform. We need to work together to come up with better solutions to keep our community safe and keep those individuals accountable.”

On Wednesday, the San Jose Police Media Relations announced on Twitter it believed a homicide suspect from yet another murder case fled to Mexico.

Police say 41-year-old Oscar Soto, who was in custody in connection to a homicide on Jan. 10, was released via SORP and is believed to have fled to Mexico.

Soto was arrested in connection with shooting a man near the 2300 block of Mammoth Drive in the early morning of Jan. 10, according to a report by KRON4.

The San Jose Police Media Relations suggested in its tweet that dangerous suspects should not be released:

“He was also released on SORP. He is now outstanding and fled the country. Currently believed to be in Mexico.

“This is why dangerous defendants/suspects should not be released on their own recognizance.”


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