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BREAKING NEWS: Supreme Court Strikes Down Animal Cruelty Law

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From Reuters.com

The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that a U.S. law that makes it a crime to sell videos of animals being tortured or killed violated constitutional free-speech rights.

By an 8-1 vote, the court struck down the 1999 animal cruelty law for infringing on free-speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Congress adopted the law in an attempt to stop people from profiting by the interstate sale of depictions of torture and killing of animals. It was mainly aimed at “crush” videos in which women in high-heeled shoes step on small animals as a type of sexual fetish.

Opponents of the law had argued it was too broad and too vague, making illegal some videos of blood sports like bullfighting and even some documentaries. They said it should be struck down as a form of government censorship.

Writing for the court majority, Chief Justice John Roberts agreed that the law was substantially too broad and therefore invalid under the First Amendment.

While the prohibition of animal cruelty has a long history in American law, there is no evidence of a similar tradition prohibiting depictions of such cruelty, Roberts wrote in the 20-page opinion.

The ruling was a victory for Robert Stevens of Virginia, who made and sold three videos of pit bulls fighting each other and attacking hogs and wild boars.

His 2005 conviction was the first in the country under the law. Stevens was sentenced to 37 months in prison, but he has yet to start his sentence while his case was on appeal.

Attorneys for Stevens said his sentence was 14 months longer than professional football player Michael Vick’s prison term for running a dog-fighting ring. Vick has served his sentence and has resumed his career.

Laws in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with various other federal laws, already ban animal cruelty.

U.S. Justice Department lawyers had argued animal cruelty videos should be treated like child pornography, not entitled to any constitutional protection. Usually, videos and other depictions are protected as free speech, even if they show abhorrent conduct.

Only Justice Samuel Alito dissented. He said the law could be validly applied to at least two broad categories of expression — “crush” videos and dog-fighting videos.

The Supreme Court case is United States v. Stevens, No. 08-769.

(Editing by bill Trott)


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kathylacoss
kathylacoss
11 years ago

What a bunch of hipocrits !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nicholas Bond
11 years ago

Some asshole whining that his sentence was too long because an international celebrity got preferential treatment for a similar or related crime makes no sense. Yes, it's bullshit. Everyone says Lady Justice is blind. I think that bitch is faking it. And she likes money just as much as the next one.

The law can be a great thing. A great, and confused thing. I wonder if anywhere in Roberts' 20 page opinion there is a call for a more specific law that bans these “crush” videos and dogfighting videos, like Alito mentioned. They should clearly be illegal because the action they depict is illegal, under current animal cruelty laws. They are evidence of a crime and therefore not protected by free speech, if my understanding of the Constitution is correct on the matter. That's why Snuff films are illegal.

I agree with Justice Alito. Not like it matters, since I'm no lawyer.

Sometimes I love my country. Sometimes I don't. Today isn't a good day for it.

lynnsouther
lynnsouther
11 years ago

ANIMAL TORTURE SHOULD BE PUNISHED LIKE CHILD TORTURE!!

LAB ANIMALS NEED TO BE FREED. NO SCIENCE FOR HUMANS COMES FROM TORTURING
MONKEYS, BEAGLES, BUNNIES….BY BORING HOLES IN THEIR HEADS, INSERTING ELECTRODES, LEAVING THE ANIMAL IN ISOLATION…STARING AT A WALL WHILE BEING BRAIN SHOCKED, CRYING FOR MOMMY, SCARED, EXTREME PAIN, GOING INSANE….DEATH. WHY? NO HUMAN SCIENCE…..JUST HUMAN CRUELTY!!

George
George
11 years ago

At times I am ashamed to be a human being and this is one of them. Who in thter right mind would approve of such a thing. I am a fan of freedom of speech but when it involves the hurting of a being then this is when you have to draw the line. Robert Stevens is a pathetic excuse for a human being what the hell is wrong with states like Virginia and North Carolina. Are most of the people there nuts?

Laurel
Laurel
11 years ago

It sickens me that there are those who would seek profit from animal suffering. So it seems to me there needs to be more enforcement of anticruelty laws and use these films as evidence if they can’t be prohibited. Something stronger needs to be done to stop it.

klseel
klseel
9 years ago
Reply to  Laurel

Shame on the Supreme Court of our country for such senseless actions.   If only they remember an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. 

Cjustpeachie
Cjustpeachie
10 years ago

I agree with all of your comments and want to thank DOGFILES for bringing this to light!! I don’t know why they call it the Supreme Court because there is nothing supreme about their decisions! BULLFIGHTING?? I would think that would have been prohibited a long time ago!! Oh, I get it…they are talking about videos of bullfighting!! I don’t want to see that either!! OK…any videos of any animals being abused or being killed by persons or other animals must be ruled felonies with longterm prison sentences!!! Period!!

Mickey102089
Mickey102089
10 years ago

Not surprising that once again they don’t care about the poor animals that criminals will hurt to make money and for sick pleasure. Children who are photographed and that’s it are considered victims but they don’t think that animals deserve any protection. It’s nice to know that America is moving backwards. 

Mickey102089
Mickey102089
10 years ago

Not surprising that once again they don’t care about the poor animals that criminals will hurt to make money and for sick pleasure. Children who are photographed and that’s it are considered victims but they don’t think that animals deserve any protection. It’s nice to know that America is moving backwards. 

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