1st Amendment v. Dogfight Video: High Court to Decide

Conviction rests on First Amendment status of animal abuse tapes

By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 20, 2009 2:56 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court agreed today to hear that pits the First Amendment against the production and sale of dogfighting videos, the Chicago Tribune reports. The case involves a man jailed for selling several brutally explicit videos of pit bulls fighting. A federal appeals court overturned his conviction on grounds that the law against dogfighting videos violated free-speech protections—which apply even to depictions of illegal activity.

The appeals court noted that exceptions exist, most notably for child pornography, whose illegality supercedes First Amendment protections. But the court was unwilling to create, in dogfighting videos, a new category of unlawful expression. The government appealed to the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments in the fall.

Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton speaks about a 2008 dogfighting bust.
Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton speaks about a 2008 dogfighting bust.   (AP Photo)
In this 2008 file photo, one of Michael Vick's fighting dogs hides in its shelter at Best Friends animal sanctuary, north of Kanab, Utah.
In this 2008 file photo, one of Michael Vick's fighting dogs hides in its shelter at Best Friends animal sanctuary, north of Kanab, Utah.   (AP Photo)
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