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Animal Rights and the Victimhood Trap (Justin Marceau)

Through this Article, Professor Justin Marceau examines the work of a notable segment of the animal-law field, which has prioritized law and policy achievements that recognize animals as victims of crime. On the one hand, animals are unquestionably victims. They endure considerable suffering at the hands of humans, and civil liability or non-carceral recognition of this victimhood is a distinct topic. The question this Article takes up, by contrast, is whether the crime victims’ rights framing—imbued as it is with the rhetoric and logics of a tough-on-crime movement—represents a material gain for animals. Is the victims’ rights turn in animal law exclusively or primarily rhetorical or expressive, or are there concrete, measurable gains for animals? 

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