Gary L. Francione (born May 1954) is an American legal scholar. He is the Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law & Philosophy at Rutgers School of Law–Newark, and Visiting Professor in Philosophy at the University of Lincoln in England, where he will be teaching in 2020-2021.
Francione is known for his work on animal rights theory, and in 1989, was the first academic to teach it in an American law school. His work has focused on three issues: the property status of animals, the differences between animal rights and animal welfare, and a theory of animal rights based on sentience alone, rather than on any other cognitive characteristics.
He is a pioneer of the abolitionist theory of animal rights, arguing that animal welfare regulation is theoretically and practically unsound, serving only to prolong the status of animals as property by making the public feel comfortable about using them. Gary L. Francione argues that non-human animals require only one right, the right not to be regarded as property, and that veganism—the rejection of the use of animals as mere resources—is the moral baseline of the animal rights movement. He rejects all forms of violence, arguing that the animal rights movement is the logical progression of the peace movement, seeking to take it one step further by ending conflict between human and non-human animals, and by treating animals as ends in themselves.
Francione is the author or co-author of several books about animal rights, including Animals, Property, and the Law (1995), Rain Without Thunder: The Ideology of the Animal Rights Movement (1996), Animals as Persons (2008), and The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? (2010, with Robert Garner). He has also written papers on copyright, patent law, and law and science.
Francione graduated with a BA in philosophy from the University of Rochester, where he was awarded the Phi Beta Kappa O’Hearn Scholarship, allowing him to pursue graduate study in philosophy in the UK. He received his MA in philosophy and his JD from the University of Virginia, where he was articles editor of the Virginia Law Review. After graduation, he clerked for Judge Albert Tate, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.
After practising law at the New York firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore, he joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1984, and received tenure in 1987. He began to teach animal rights theory as part of his course in jurisprudence in 1985. In 1989, he joined the Rutgers faculty, and in 1990, he and his colleague Anna E. Charlton started the Rutgers Animal Rights Law Project, in which law students were awarded academic credit for working on actual cases involving animals. Francione and Charlton closed the clinic in 2000, but continue to teach courses in animal rights theory, animals and the law, and human rights and animal rights. Francione also teaches criminal law, criminal procedure, and legal philosophy. In 1989, Francione taught the first course in an American law school on animal rights and the law.
Francione has been a professor at Rutgers since at least 1995, when the New York Times reported that the Rutgers’ Animal Rights Law Center, the only one in the US, was receiving 200 calls a week, and that Francione was losing “well over half the lawsuits the clinic brings”, as they were taking a strict abolitionist approach.