Attorney Behind ‘Loving v. Virginia’ Honored for 35 Years of Defending Animals

PETA Foundation Names Legal Department After Civil Rights Trailblazer Phil Hirschkop

For Immediate Release:
October 31, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382


Since PETA’s founding in 1980, the animal rights group has had a secret weapon: Virginia attorney Phil Hirschkop, the legal mind behind the landmark Loving v. Virginia case—which declared laws that ban interracial marriage unconstitutional and is the subject of the highly anticipated film Loving, in theaters November 4.

Hirschkop—who’s portrayed in the film by actor Jon Bass—served as a Green Beret and was at the forefront of the civil rights movement. His groundbreaking cases opposed segregation in prisons, racism against teachers, and discrimination against women who sought admission to major universities. He also represented Dr. Benjamin Spock, Norman Mailer, the Berrigan brothers, and numerous anti-war protesters during the 1970s—and for 35 years, he has served as PETA’s litigation counsel, defending protesters arrested while exercising their First Amendment rights and spearheading landmark lawsuits such as Berosini v. PETA, the case that put Las Vegas showman and notorious orangutan abuser Bobby Berosini out of business. In honor of these achievements, the PETA Foundation’s legal department—which houses 17 attorneys working on animal cases worldwide—has today been named The Philip J. Hirschkop Legal Department.

“For 35 years, PETA has been privileged to have one of the country’s foremost litigators helping us fight for the rights of animals,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “Phil Hirschkop will go down in history as a champion of social justice for all living beings, from oppressed women to beaten and caged orangutans.”

Hirschkop’s other PETA-related cases include PETA v. Doughney, the first case brought under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which freed the domain name from an anti-animal domain-name squatter, and Covance Laboratories v. PETA, which defended PETA against an attempt by the world’s largest contract laboratory to stop the group from disseminating footage that exposed illegal animal abuse by experimenters.

Phil Hirschkop is available for interviews. For more information, please visit

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