Sunday, January 18, 2009

Supreme Court asked to hear case on depictions of animal cruelty

The ACS Blog reports that the Supreme Court may hear a case that would reverse a decision that invalidated the prohibition on selling videos that depict animal cruelty. In July of last year, the Third Circuit struck down the federal law that made it a crime to sell videos that depict animal cruelty. The decision (available here as a pdf) was profoundly disappointing - there were exceptions in the law that protected legitimate or educational uses of videos. More importantly, the law was originally passed to prohibit "crush" videos - disturbing and perverse videos where people would slowly torture and kill small animals. A majority of the Third Circuit held that the law violated the First Amendment's right to free speech inviting the Supreme Court to decide differently. However, an excellent dissenting opinion laid out the groundwork for why the law is constitutional recognizing that depictions of animal cruelty should be treated differently:
Our nation has extended solicitude to animals from an early date, and has now established a rich tapestry of laws protecting animals from the cruelty we so abhor. This interest has nested itself so deeply into the core of our society – because the interest protects the animals themselves, humans, and public mores – that it warrants being labeled compelling.
The ACS Blog post also links to an article from the NY Times that points out that the case has a better chance of being heard by the Supreme Court now that the Solicitor General has weighed in. The article quotes a portion of his brief to the Court: “Depictions of the intentional infliction of suffering on vulnerable creatures play no essential role in the expression of ideas.” I couldn't agree more. We'll keep an eye on what the Supreme Court decides to do.

1 comment:

KelleyK said...

Again, who do we write to support this important bill?

And shame on those who voted it down! How do you people sleep at night!!!!