In this Article, I claim that humans enslave chimpanzees and thereby deprive them of their bodily liberty and that chimpanzees should be entitled to use the common law writs of habeas corpus and de homine replegiando and to bring their common law claims to bodily liberty before courts. In Part I, I demonstrate that chimpanzees are genetically highly similar to humans and quite cognitively and socially complex. In Part II, I argue that flexibility is part of the common law's basic structure, that legal personhood is one of the common law's basic values, that the structure of the common law requires it to permit such a cause of action to go forward on its merits, and that the claim of chimpanzees to common law legal personhood should always be subject to common law re-evaluation. In Part III, I show that post-Conquest English villeins used writs that allowed them, under certain circumstances, to be declared free. In Part IV, I trace the history of the common law writ of de homine replegiando in England and America and argue that individual chimpanzees are entitled to use it to bring their claims to bodily liberty before common law courts. In Part V, I set out the history of the common law writ of habeas corpus in England and America and argue that individual chimpanzees are entitled to use that common law writ to bring their claims to bodily liberty before common law courts.
Steven M. Wise,
The Entitlement of Chimpanzees to the Common Law Writs of Habeas Corpus and de Homine Replegiando, 37 Golden Gate U. L. Rev.