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Supreme court crushes law against animal cruelty videos and photos

April 20, 2010 |  1:57 pm

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court struck down on free-speech grounds Tuesday a federal law that makes it a crime to sell videos or photos of animals being illegally killed or tortured.

In a 8-1 ruling, the justices overturned the conviction of a Virginia man who sold dog-fighting videos.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., speaking for the court, said the First Amendment does not allow the government to criminalize whole categories of speech and expression that are deemed undesirable.

Roberts also said the law was too broad and could allow prosecutions for selling photos of out-of-season hunting, for example.

Only Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

Congress passed the law a decade ago to halt the practice of selling videos that depicted tiny animals being crushed to death. It had been rarely used, however, and came under challenge when prosecutors used it against the dog-fighting industry.

This is the high court's second controversial free-speech ruling this year. In January, the court struck down the laws that prohibited corporations from spending money on election races.

-- Tribune Wire Services

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Photo: The Supreme Court Building in Washington. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

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Comments (13)

So I guess if watch someone murder someone and video tape it, I can publicize that as well, under "free speech." However, I am not allowed to talk about God in school. Glad to see what our country is coming to. He should have been convicted of as an "accomplice" as well as for publicize an illegal act. Our countries idea of freedom is getting very perverse.

Waiting for the ''what message does this send our children'' justification for removal of our civil liberties...

As I recall, the legislation was also so loosely worded that it would have been illegal for an undercover journalist or animal rights advocate to possess or show footage of animal cruelty even just to raise public awareness. This ruling seems like it's only contraversial if you aren't familiar with the details of the case.

I want to throw up. There are ethical and human laws that the supreme court should. Animals, kids, the elderly and those creatures that have no voices depend on a sense of humanity. The supreme court had let our society down.

When I was a child, I heard of another child that needlessly murdered an innocent cat. I thought how could someone harm or hurt such an innocent creature. Well, the Supreme Court has basically said it's okay. Now this is a conservative Supreme Court, which doesn't surprise me. I think conservatives are evil at heart.

How long will it be before this cruel and inhumane court will begin to make exceptions to wife and child abuse! This ruling is a death blow to humanitarians everywhere! I knew that conservatives could have a narrow view of things, but this? Remember you guys and gals of the court Karma comes back threefold. You are wrong!!!!!!!!

What is clear is, the Supreme Court is a gang of criminals trying to hide their own crimes behind "free speech" The robed criminals of the Supreme Court deserve only life imprisonment to protect families and children in society from their perverted decisions.

While I'm unfamiliar with the particular language of the law there is an analogy that jumped right out at me. Cruelty to animals is a crime. So is pedophilia. Yet child porn is illegal while animal cruelty footage now isn't.

Murder is also illegal. Yet scenes of actual murder can be shown. But 'snuff' films are illegal. Maybe there needed to be similar language here. Showing animal cruelty to educate as opposed to glorify might have been an appropriate line in the sand.

Outrageous ruling...its cruelty just like child porn.

I'll bet they would rule differently if God forbid they saw one of their loved ones getting the life stomped out of them! What a joke and a disgrace!

I am appauled at the ruling of the supreme court on animal cruelty.
One cannot even contact the supreme court unless one uses the US postal service!
How out of kilter are our systems? Do they really know what the people of the USA care about? Not caring about animals is like not caring about children. Enough. We take care of all who know how to work the system. Enough! Those of us who pay our taxes and work hard are really not represented. Nor are man's best friends.

Are videos of abusing babies or the elderly covered under Free Speach also? I'm just asking.

No wonder our country is in the shape that it is in. Is it not a proven fact that animal cruelty is just a prerequest to human cruelty? Lets just let everyone do as they please and have no laws to help anyone. The Supreme Court is just as sick as the people who are doing this to baby animals. Lets keep taking care of the criminals Everyone on the supreme court should be thrown out How is killing an innocent animal considered free speach. can I go to the supreme court building and have sex on the front steps and clame that that is free speech? The has become the sickest society ever.


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