The United States Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Law Protecting Animals in Video ProductionPublished April 20, 2010
I guess it's alright now for animals to be cruelly treated, tortured and murdered in order to allow "Crush videos" to be produced and sold in order that our precious right of the freedom of speech is protected, according to the United States Supreme Court. Last Fall I wrote a blog item when the United States Supreme Court began considering a case titled "US v. Stevens." At the heart of the case was a Federal statute which made it a criminal act to possess, sell or make videos or other distribution of films depicting violent acts of animal cruelty. But whether that Federal law violated freedom of speech was the question upon which they were considering. On Tuesday, April 20, in an 8-1 decision, the United States Supreme Court struck down that Federal law which was designed to ban the making and distribution of graphic violence directed at animals in videos. Their decision was based on the opinion that the Federal law does violate the First Amendment's right to free speech. Chief Justice John Roberts, in speaking for the majority said, "We read (the law) to create a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth." He noted that nowhere in that disputed law was there a requirement that the depicted conduct actually be "cruel." In striking down the Federal law, the Court argued that the wording in the Federal law was too vague and needed to be far more clearly defined. Judge Roberts wrote, "There are myriad federal and state law concerning the proper treatment of animals, but many of them are not designed to guard against animal cruelty. Protections of endangered species, for example, restrict even the humane wounding or killing of living animals." Judge Samuel Alito was the only one with a dissenting vote. He wrote, "The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it most certainly does not protect violent criminal conduct, even if engaged in for expressive purposes." The Humane Society of the United States was disappointed in the decision. In a statement, Wayne Pacelle, President and Chief Executive of the organization said, "The Supreme Court's decision gives us a clear pathway to enact a narrower ban on the sale of videos depicting malicious acts of cruelty, including animal crush videos and dog fighting. Congress should act swiftly to make sure the First Amendment is not used as a shield for those committing barbaric acts of cruelty, and then peddling their videos on the Internet." But what makes their decision incomprehensible and highly disturbing to me it that is already illegal in the United States to harm animals during the making of a commercial or movie. In fact there are representatives of animal protection agencies present to ensure the safety of animals during their production. So why is the making and distribution of "Crush videos" which often feature women in stiletto heels, piercing their body parts, or crushing small animals such as kittens, chicks and puppies under their feet considered to be any different? How do you feel about the United States Supreme Court's decision? Leave a comment and share your opinion. Photo Credit: Wikipedia Sitting on the west side of the United States Supreme Court Building: The Contemplation of Justice.