Judge: ‘There Is No Right to Associate with Pets Under the First Amendment’

Judge: ‘There Is No Right to Associate with Pets Under the First Amendment’

Some courts have ruled that there is a First Amendment right to freedom of intimate association, that protects people’s close association with other people, in non-familial groups like private clubs or boy-scout packs.

But what about your association with your pet? That’s not protected by the First Amendment, ruled Judge Edward Chen in Deschamps v. City of Sausalito. Here’s the background of the case, which was decided on February 22:

Mr. Deschamps … asserts violations of the First Amendment (his “right to associate with pets”), the Fourth Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendments. In the complaint, Mr. Deschamps explains that he has brought these claims because “[t]hey gave us 3 days to move to the tennis courts, and now they are taking away the structure I need to keep my cats.” The TRO application sheds additional light on Mr. Deschamps’s claims. In the TRO application, he states that he will not be allowed to use his “tent structure” and instead will be issued a “standard one” that is 8×6 feet. He asserts that the standard tent is inadequate because “[t]here is not enough space for my cats” and “they are made out [of] really thin material” that his “cats will rip up easily.” In contrast, his own tent “is made [up of] strong reinforced canvas[] my cants can’t tear up…. [If] my cats escape before they acclimate to the tennis courts, they will go astray and may die by getting hit by vehicles or eaten by coyotes.”

For examples of court rulings finding some non-familial associations protected by the First Amendment, see Louisiana Debating and Literary Association v. New Orleans (1995) (private club) and Curran v. Mt. Diablo Council of Boy Scouts of America (1998) (boy scout pack).

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for CNSNews.com and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at [email protected]

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