Anti-Animal Research Terrorism Law Faces a 'War of the Words' Challenge

By Joel Zand on July 13, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A federal judge in San Jose, California heard arguments today about the constitutionality of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (18 U.S.C. § 413), a law used to prosecute violent acts of anti-animal research activists.

The defendants were indicted in March 2009 on charges alleging that they conspired to threaten, harass, and intimidate bio-medical researchers at their homes near Berkeley and Santa Cruz, and at animal research facilities on the University of California at Santa Cruz campus.

You can read the federal grand jury indictment here:


The four defendants in the case -- Joseph Buddenberg, Maryam Khajavi, Nathan Pope a/k/a Nathan Knoerl, and Adriana Stumpo --  filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on constitutional grounds.  They argued that the federal law punishes speech, is vague and overbroad, and that it requires people to "guess" which conduct is prohibited.

You can read their motion to dismiss the AETA case here:

Federal Prosecutors argue that the law criminalizes conduct, not speech.

You can read the U.S. Attorney's response to the motion to dismiss here:

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