The momentum for granting legal personhood to bodies of water is growing, as one water scholar and conservationist, Kelsey Leonard, recently noted. Legal personhood grants bodies of water the same legal rights in a courtroom as a person. Personhood is defined as “any subject matter other than a human being to which the law attributes personality.”
Christopher D. Stone developed the concept of giving an environmental entity legal personhood. Stone’s work was later recognized by Justice William Douglas in his dissent in the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case of Sierra Club v. Morton. Douglas argued for different environmental media to have a locus standi (e.g., the right to bring an action before the court of law) for their own protection and preservation.