Court Strikes Down Violent Animal Video Ban
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By an 8-1 vote, the Supreme Court has struck down a federal ban on videos that show graphic violence against animals, saying it violates the right to free speech.
The justices threw out the conviction of a Virginia man who had made videos about pit bull fights, rejecting the government's claim that making such videos is analogous to trafficking in child pornography. The ruling overturns a 1999 federal law that bans trafficking in “depictions of animal cruelty.”
In his opinion supporting the decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote "the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter or its content."
According to The New York Times, Roberts rejected the government’s analogy to child pornography, which the court in 1982 said deserved no First Amendment protection.
The Humane Society says it'll ask Congress to adopt a narrower ban on the sale of such videos that might be acceptable to the Court.