Supreme Court Overturns Anti-Animal Cruelty Law in 1st Amendment Case

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday forcefully struck down a federal law aimed at banning depictions of dog fighting and other violence against animals, saying it violated constitutional guarantees of free speech and created a 'criminal prohibition of alarming breadth.'

The 8 to 1 ruling, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., was a ringing endorsement of the First Amendment's protection of even distasteful expression. Roberts called 'startling and dangerous' the government's argument that the value of certain categories of speech should be weighed against their societal costs when protecting free speech.

'The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the government outweigh the costs,' Roberts wrote. 'Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it.'"

Robert Barnes reports for the Washington Post April 21, 2010.

See Also:

"Justices Reject Ban on Videos of Animal Cruelty" (New York Times)

Background: SEJ, J-Groups Urge Court To Toss Curb on Speech

Sloppy legal draftsmanship resulted in a 1999 law that could put journalists and publishers in jail for doing investigative exposés of animal cruelty.

 

Source: Wash Post, 04/21/2010