Judge Jeffrey Miller dismissed a lawsuit Wednesday filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals against SeaWorld that contended the park violated the U.S. Constitution's 13th Amendment by holding the whales in captivity, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
Miller ruled the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery in 1865, only applies to humans.
"The clear language and historical context reveal that only human beings, or persons, are afforded the protection of the 13th Amendment," Miller wrote in his ruling.
A lawyer for PETA said the group has not yet decided whether it will appeal the case, but he said PETA will continue to fight for the rights of the killer whales.
"We'll look at the order closely and see where we go from here," said lawyer Jeff Kerr. "We're concerned only with the well-being of the orcas and trying to end their enslavement."
SeaWorld issued a statement Wednesday praising Miller's ruling.
"The speed in which the court issued its opinion provides reassurance of the sanctity of the 13th Amendment and the absurdity of PETA's baseless lawsuit," the statement said.