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Could US courts make animals into humans?

It’s the slippery slope question that proponents of judicial supremacism can never answer. If an unelected judge stands above the other branches of government over societal or philosophical questions affecting the whole of the people – and can redefine even God’s laws, basic biology, and common sense – then there is quite literally nothing the judicial branch of government cannot do. So, is there any limit whatsoever to judicial power?

Meet “Sandra,” a 33-year-old orangutan from Argentina that is in the news this week because it was transferred to a Florida facility. But there is some unique history behind this orangutan, to say the least. In 2014, animal rights groups in Argentina filed a habeas corpus petition on behalf of the animal to have her freed from the Buenos Aires zoo whose accommodations violated human rights. Judge Elena Liberatori ordered her released in 2015, suggesting that she "spend the rest of her life in a more dignified situation.”

"With that ruling I wanted to tell society something new, that animals are sentient beings and that the first right they have is our obligation to respect them," Liberatori told the Associated Press.

Now Sandra has found a home at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida, which is billed as a “sanctuary” for apes where they can live free in a sprawling 100-acre reserve that fits their natural habitat.

With Sandra in the news, it got me thinking, what is to stop a judge from doing that in America? If U.S. judges are accorded authority to contort human biology, natural law, our history, our founding, case law, and ancient principles of sovereignty to make denizens of aliens, victims of criminals, and men of women, then why can’t they offer human rights to animals?

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