In a ruling on the fate of five SeaWorld orca whales — who were likely waiting for the decision with bated breath — a San Diego judge dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that sought to grant whales constitutional protection under the 13th Amendment.
Ruling that the anti-slavery 13th Amendment applies only to humans, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller tossed the case, heard earlier in the week. (RELATED: Top 10: Most controversial ads [SLIDESHOW])
According to PETA, the basis of the suit was that the 13th Amendment’s “plain text” prohibiting slavery does not mention the species of the enslaved.
“Slavery is slavery, and it does not depend on the species of the slave any more than it depends on gender, race, or religion,” said PETA general counsel Jeffrey Kerr in a statement prior to the ruling.
Despite the defeat, the Los Angeles Times reports that PETA remains optimistic, considering the case “one more step taken toward the inevitable day when all animals will be free from enslavement for human amusement.”
The plaintiffs on whose behalf PETA filed the lawsuit include three orcas from SeaWorld San Diego and two from SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla.
SeaWorld contended that the case was “completely without merit” and a PETA “publicity stunt.”
According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Kerr could appeal the ruling.