There is longstanding and well-established legal non-uniformity in defining ‘person’, and in stating laws in terms of ‘persons’. The RICO statutes (18 USC 1961 (3)) states that a person ‘includes any individual or entity capable of holding a legal or beneficial interest in property’. A corporation is a person for the purposes of access to the federal courts, for purposes of forming contracts, and enjoyment of First and Fourth Amendment rights, but not for purposes of voting or 5th Amendment immunity. 1 USC 8(a) states that
the words “person”, “human being”, “child”, and “individual”, shall
include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born
alive at any stage of development
which states a sufficient condition, but not a necessary one.
In Washington state, RCW 1.16.080 says that
The term “person” may be construed to include the United States, this
state, or any state or territory, or any public or private corporation
or limited liability company, as well as an individual.
Washington does not define ‘individual’, but we can call on Black’s Law Dictionary to learn that
this term denotes a single person as distinguished from a group or
class, and also, very commonly, a private or natural person as
distinguished from a partnership, corporation, or association; but it
is said that this restrictive signification is not necessarily
inherent in the word, and that it may, in proper cases, include
And finally, Roe v. Wade 410 U.S. 113, 157 holds that an unborn instance of homo sapiens is not a person for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment. In short, there is no clear and settled answer to the question.
Courts do not always refuse to hear ground-breaking cases, and in case this issue is ever realized, I am confident that cert. will be granted. The point of law is, after all, to state general principles regarding what is forbidden or allowed in a society, thus it must be capable of addressing novel situations. We will have to await that case, but the prospects for your client are good. It is obvious that “persons” have a special position under the law, it is recognised that they have both rights and responsibilities that other things do not have. Summarizing over millenia of jurisprudential thinking, we can see that the special status of persons (when not reduced to divine gift: not applicable under current US law) derives from the fact that persons have a capacity to reason, and to choose actions based on their reasoning. In the context of our current knowledge, this is mostly coextensive with being an instance of homo sapiens, though in case of severe or complete limitation of those faculties, an instance of homo sapiens may not be legally accorded the full set of rights and responsibilities of homo sapiens.
In fact, the law does not have a definition of homo sapiens. Before objecting that science teaches us that only earthlings can be homo sapiens, we should be remember that courts do not always hold that terms as defined in a scientific discipline are to be interpreted that way under the law, which is how SCOTUS in Nix v. Hedden 149 U.S. 304 was able to hold that a tomato is not a legal fruit. The plain meaning of homo sapiens is completely consistent with extending legal coverage to Kryptonians.
Thus it will be the finding of the court that petitioner, not a member of the species homo sapiens but endowed with the faculty of reason and free will, has all of the rights and responsibilities of a ‘person’ under Kansas law, and has the right to be adopted.