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-   -   Supreme Court strikes down law banning dogfight videos (http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=69718)

Melinda April 21st, 2010 08:57 AM

Supreme Court strikes down law banning dogfight videos
 
I don't believe this!!

[url]http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/04/20/dog.fight.videos/index.html[/url]

Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has struck down a federal law designed to stop the sale and marketing of videos showing dogfights and other acts of animal cruelty, saying it is an unconstitutional violation of free speech.

The 8-1 decision was a defeat for animal rights groups and congressional sponsors of the unusual legislation.

The specific case before the court dealt with tapes showing pit bulldogs attacking other animals and one another in staged confrontations.
The justices Tuesday concluded the scope and intent of the decade-old statute was overly broad.

"The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the government outweigh its costs," said Chief Justice John Roberts. He concluded Congress had not sufficiently shown "depictions" of dogfighting were enough to justify a special category of exclusion from free speech protection.

The high court threw out the conviction of Robert Stevens, a Pittsville, Virginia, man who sold videos through his business, Dogs of Velvet and Steel. According to court records, undercover federal agents found he was advertising his tapes in Sporting Dog Journal, an underground magazine on illegal dogfighting.

"This is what I was hoping for," Stevens told CNN just after the ruling was announced. "I am not nor have I ever been a dog fighter or a promoter of dogfighting. I am a journalist and an author."

Among the products Stevens advertised was "Catch Dogs," featuring pit bulls chasing wild boars on organized hunts and a "gruesome depiction of a pit bull attacking the lower jaw of a domestic farm pig," according to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based appeals court that ruled on the case earlier.

Stevens was charged in 2004 with violating interstate commerce laws by selling depictions of animal cruelty. He was later sentenced to 37 months in prison, and promptly appealed. That sentence was put on hold pending resolution of this appeal.

He argued his sentence was longer than the 14 months given professional football player Michael Vick, who ran an illegal dogfighting ring.

It was the first prosecution in the United States to proceed to trial under the 1999 law.

The video marketer is not related to Justice John Paul Stevens, who turned 90 Tuesday. The court made no mention of the milestone as it held a two-hour public session.

Nearly every state and local jurisdiction have their own laws banning mistreatment of wild and domesticated animals, and usually handle prosecutions of animal cruelty.

Several media organizations had supported Stevens, worrying the federal law could implicate reports about deer hunting, and depictions of bullfighting in Ernest Hemingway novels.

Roberts agreed, saying, "We read [the federal law] to create a criminal prohibition of alarming breadth."

"Jurisdictions permit and encourage hunting, and there is an enormous national market for hunting-related depictions in which a living animal is intentionally killed," said Roberts. "An otherwise-lawful image of any of these practices, if sold or possessed for commercial gain within a state that happens to forbid the practice, falls within the prohibition of [the federal law]."

During oral arguments in October, the justices offered a number of wide-ranging hypotheticals over what the law could forbid, including: fox hunts, pate de foie gras from geese, cockfighting, bullfighting, shooting deer out of season, even Roman gladiator battles.

Only Justice Samuel Alito dissented in the case, and he focused on one of the most disturbing aspects raised in the appeal, the marketing of so-called "crush" videos, in which women -- with their faces unseen -- are shown stomping helpless animals such as rabbits to death with spiked-heel shoes or with their bare feet.

"The animals used in crush videos are living creatures that experience excruciating pain. Our society has long banned such cruelty," he said. The courts, he said, have "erred in second-guessing the legislative judgment about the importance of preventing cruelty to animals."

He predicted mores crush videos will soon flood the underground market, because the ruling has "the practical effect of legalizing the sale of such videos."

Roberts suggested a law specifically banning crush videos might be valid, since it would be narrowly tailored to a specific type of commercial enterprise.

Alito noted that would not help dogs forced to fight each other, where, he said, "the suffering lasts for years rather than minutes."

The government had argued a "compelling interest" in stopping people who would profit from dog attack tapes and similar depictions. Roberts dismissed suggestions by the Justice Department that only the most extreme acts of cruelty would be targeted.

"The First Amendment protects against the government," Roberts said. "We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the government promised to use it responsibly."

The Humane Society, other animal rights groups and 26 states backed the government.

If the law had been upheld, it would have been only the second time the Supreme Court had identified a form of speech undeserving of protection by the First Amendment. The justices in 1982 banned the distribution of child pornography.

This is the second time this year the high court has tossed out federal legislation on free speech grounds. The justices in January nullified parts of a sweeping campaign finance reform law, giving corporations, unions, and advocacy groups more power to bankroll federal elections.

NoahGrey April 21st, 2010 09:30 AM

I don't know what I am more upset about. That the Government would even approve of this or that US Humane Societies backed the Government on this. I am ashamed of being a human being, we supposivly are the most intelligant species, the most compassionate...yet still feel the need to explote and disrepect other species and think it is OK to to do so. To entertain us. To say that they have no value, then kick you in the teeth and call it "Freedom of Speech". Animal Cruelty is now officially a joke.

hazelrunpack April 21st, 2010 09:34 AM

[QUOTE=NoahGrey]I don't know what I am more upset about. That the Government would even approve of this or that US Humane Societies backed the Government on this.[/QUOTE]The government wanted to law to be upheld and the animal rights people backed them up on it. It was the [I]Supreme Court [/I]that ruled that the law was too broad to be consitutional. The likely response will be a new law crafted to a tighter line. :fingerscr

NoahGrey April 21st, 2010 09:46 AM

Ahh...long day sorry lol I thought the government wanted it as well. Exam week here

Chris21711 April 21st, 2010 09:47 AM

[QUOTE=hazelrunpack;910321]The government wanted to law to be upheld and the animal rights people backed them up on it. It was the [I]Supreme Court [/I]that ruled that the law was too broad to be consitutional. The likely response will be a new law crafted to a tighter line. :fingerscr[/QUOTE]

I sure hope so Hazel, because if "freedom of expression" signifies "cruelty to animals" then the likes of the SPCA are redundant.

Melinda April 21st, 2010 09:54 AM

about 4 yrs ago I complained to Blockbuster about a film on their shelves "off the chain" or something like that, it was all about dog fighting, one store removed it immediately the other refused, I called head office in Toronto and they had no idea what it was about till I explained and it was immediately pulled from ALL Ontario blockbusters. I recieved a thank you letter in the mail a week later. Do people not view these things before they are put on the shelves??

hazelrunpack April 21st, 2010 09:54 AM

I can relate to exam week, NoahGrey! I still have strange nightmares about exams! :eek: :laughing:

I doubt that anyone was defending cruelty to animals, Chris. The Court looks at the law with a broader eye, trying to determine unintended consequences to the way it's written. It wasn't the subject matter, but the wording that came into question.

If it spurs the crafting of a tighter, more restrictive and effective law, the ruling will be a good thing. Often, when the Court overturns something, new laws spring up that handle the problem better. Let's hope this turns out to be another case like that :fingerscr

Frenchy April 21st, 2010 09:58 AM

It's like saying I can put a video of me murdering someone .... murder is not legal but freedom of speech allows me to film it and put it out there ?

hazelrunpack April 21st, 2010 09:59 AM

Actually, no. That would be illegal. It would be used for evidence. :p

Chris21711 April 21st, 2010 10:04 AM

[QUOTE=hazelrunpack;910343]

I doubt that anyone was defending cruelty to animals, Chris. The Court looks at the law with a broader eye, trying to determine unintended consequences to the way it's written. It wasn't the subject matter, but the wording that came into question.

If it spurs the crafting of a tighter, more restrictive and effective law, the ruling will be a good thing. Often, when the Court overturns something, new laws spring up that handle the problem better. Let's hope this turns out to be another case like that :fingerscr[/QUOTE]

I understand that Hazel, but they take so damn long in recrafting anything that the "sickos" get to carry on their merry way.

ancientgirl April 21st, 2010 10:22 AM

[QUOTE=hazelrunpack;910321]The government wanted to law to be upheld and the animal rights people backed them up on it. It was the [I]Supreme Court [/I]that ruled that the law was too broad to be consitutional. The likely response will be a new law crafted to a tighter line. :fingerscr[/QUOTE]

Let's hope they do this quickly though and not drag their feet.

14+kitties April 21st, 2010 11:46 AM

The wheels of justice turn slowly. How many more innocents have to be killed in horrific ways before our elected officials, in both Canada and the US, wise up? :wall:

chico2 April 21st, 2010 01:40 PM

Chris,I was reading that this morning and thought it was here in Canada,I almost got sick..
It's an outrage wherever in the world it takes place,sickening:(

The Supreme Court(US)has now given kids the tools to torture animals,just buy a video and learn:yell:

Melinda April 23rd, 2010 08:39 AM

warning, there is a grapic picture with the article, sorry
 
more on the matter of court ruling, warning, there is one graphic picture with the article.

[url]http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/04/23/crush-video-ruling-another-supreme-court-power-grab/[/url]

NoahGrey April 24th, 2010 10:13 AM

Thanks for the article Melinda. Again I am speechless. Animal Cruelty is now officially a joke. Again, I am ashamed of being a human being.

Melinda April 24th, 2010 11:06 AM

and I'm right beside NoahGrey


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