As part of The Big Smoke’s Next Gen program, Bailey Mason draws our attention to how Brett Kavanaugh defended SeaWorld in the wake of the Blackfish scandal.



Student: Bailey Mason
Mentor: Jordan Rivkin
Topic: Kavanaugh’s defence of SeaWorld makes his appointment to the Supreme Court even more disturbing


Judge Brett Kavanaugh – the man recently elevated to the US Supreme Court, despite serious allegations of sexual assault and corruption – has been the target of doubt and ire from US workers groups and worldwide animal rights activists alike in the media for the latter part of this year.

In 2010, SeaWorld’s senior orca trainer Dawn Brancheau was violently killed by a whale during a performance, in full view of horrified guests at the park. The captive animal, Tilikum, had already been involved in the deaths of two other trainers before killing Dawn, whose death resulted in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) placing a fine on SeaWorld for endangering marine mammal trainers employed by the park.

Kavanaugh openly supported SeaWorld in this case. He was against them being fined and was, disturbingly, against the rights of workers to be safe while working. In his defence of SeaWorld, he bizarrely claimed that people working in entertainment facilities shouldn’t be protected by OSHA’s rules.

Unsurprisingly and despite his opposition, SeaWorld was found guilty of violating safety standards. This seems to clearly demonstrate that Brett Kavanaugh has little regard for workers’ safety or for abused animals, and it’s extremely disappointing to animal rights groups everywhere that he was approved to sit as a judge on the US Supreme Court.

By the way, SeaWorld no longer has trainers in the water with the dangerous killer whales but the performances with the orcas continue. The documentary Blackfish was critical of SeaWorld’s treatment of animals and staff, and this resulted in SeaWorld ending the breeding of orcas in captivity.


This article is part of a series for The Big Smoke Next Gen.

The Big Smoke Next Gen is a program which matches professional and experienced writers, academics and journalists with students who wish to write non-fiction articles and voice their opinions on what is shaping the nation.

For more information about our program at The Big Smoke, or to become a mentor, please contact us.


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