The Volokh Conspiracy

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"There Is No Right to Associate with Pets Under the First Amendment"


So holds Judge Edward Chen in yesterday's Deschamps v. City of Sausalito. The factual backstory:

Mr. Deschamps asserts that he has claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Specifically, he 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."

Say what you will about Mr. Deschamps' plight, and about how government officials should deal with homeless encampments, I agree that the First Amendment isn't implicated here.