Lions, and Tigers, and Speech, and Religion, Oh My! — Applying an Animal-Forward Lens to First Amendment Jurisprudence

Lions, and Tigers, and Speech, and Religion, Oh My! -- Applying an Animal-Forward Lens to First Amendment Jurisprudence
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2023-05-09
Unit 1Presentation Materials: Lions, and Tigers, and Speech, and Religion, Oh My! -- Applying an Animal-Forward Lens to First Amendment Jurisprudence
Unit 2Transcript: Lions, and Tigers, and Speech, and Religion, Oh My! -- Applying an Animal-Forward Lens to First Amendment Jurisprudence
Unit 3Workbook: Lions, and Tigers, and Speech, and Religion, Oh My! -- Applying an Animal-Forward Lens to First Amendment Jurisprudence
Unit 4Recording: Lions, and Tigers, and Speech, and Religion, Oh My! -- Applying an Animal-Forward Lens to First Amendment Jurisprudence

This webinar discusses the intersection between animal law and First Amendment Rights, looking at pivotal cases and case laws where these two legal areas were argued to balance animal cruelty and the freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Back at the Justice Clearinghouse for another of his informative presentation is David Rosengard. David is a Managing Attorney in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s Criminal Justice Program. He works with criminal justice stakeholders to pursue justice for animal cruelty victims and focuses on amicus briefs to address the needs of the animals involved in cases and better position animals as a whole within the law.

Topics David covered in his discussion include:

  • The First Amendment’s scope and limitation and what it means to take on an animal forward lens.
  • The levels of judicial review which determine the extent to which laws limiting speech or religion can survive – and how this is applied in animal law.
  • The Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses which lays out the scope and limits of religious freedoms.
  • How the intersection of religious practice and illegality is initially determined.
  • Evaluating religious slaughter in the Church Of The Lukumi Babalu Aye V. City Of Hialeah case.
    • How the City Council initially tried to impede the practice of animal sacrifice by raising concerns about animal cruelty, public health, and inconsistency with morals.
    • How the case was evaluated and found to fail strict scrutiny due to lack of neutrality, general applicability, and government interest, and discriminatory nature.
  • The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) – how it aimed to restore weak strict scrutiny but is overridden through state laws that requires strict scrutiny.
  • Supreme Court cases emphasizing equal treatment for secular and religious activities related to animal killing and following the Federal Humane Method of Slaughter Act’s guidelines.
  • Examples of ways local jurisdictions have responded to free exercise jurisprudence around animal cruelty law.
  • The concept of implicated conduct for religious slaughter primarily pertains to the killing of animals, not the treatment of animals leading up to the slaughter.
  • The scope and limitation of freedom of speech based on content, time, place, manner, and type and a list of what is considered unprotected speech.
  • Crush videos: What it is, its two primary types, and its brief history and prevalence.
  • Crush Laws passed during the Clinton and Obama administrations.
    • The case that stuck down the first Crush Law as the Supreme Court did not recognize animal cruelty as an unprotected speech area.
    • How the second Crush Law widened the concept of obscene and established substantial government interest in preventing cruelty.
  • The fact that conduct must be central in the conversation and that speech does not absolve conduct as demonstrated in two cases and established in the Federal PACT Act of 2019.

Points raised in the Q&A are about:

  • How the government’s interest in animal welfare can become compelling based on societal values and increased public awareness.
  • The link between animal cruelty and violence against humans and how both animals and humans should equally be protected from suffering.
  • Why religious arguments for legitimizing animal fighting do not hold up in court.
  • Guidelines on restricting the raising of animals for practices that require sacrifice.
  • The key takeaway that religious freedom and free speech do not exempt individuals from cruelty laws.



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Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Huge thank you to David Rosengard for such an informative and interesting webinar!” — Chandra
  • “Great presentation, very interesting.” — Jennifer
  • “Excellent presentation!” — Keith
  • “Updates to these areas of the law. It’s been 45 years since my law school Con Law class. 🙂 Very knowledgeable speaker with an excellent presentation style. Thank you very much.” — Linda
  • “Made the legal concepts understandable. Very helpful! — Madeline
  • “Excellent presentation! I was familiar with many of the cases, but know even more about them now. And he gave me a lot to consider. (And his “kids” are adorable! Kudos for being Rescue Dad to Pitties!)” — Mária
  • “Opened up my mind to some new thinking.” — Paul



Founded in 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund accomplishes this mission by filing high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are held accountable for their crimes, supporting tough animal protection legislation and fighting legislation harmful to animals, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law.






This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.





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