Justices Cite Free Speech in Animal Abuse Videos

They seem ready to strike down law
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2009 4:00 PM CDT
Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. sits for a new group photograph, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009, at the Supreme Court in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – The Supreme Court seems likely to back an appellate court ruling that said depictions of animal cruelty are protected as free speech by the First Amendment. In arguments today, the justices considered the case of a man convicted of selling dogfighting videos under a 1999 law that equates videos of animal cruelty with child pornography. Most of the justices seemed to be of the opinion that the law’s definition of banned content is too vague, notes USA Today.

Justice Scalia asked whether the law could cover videos of Spanish bull-fighting, while Justice Alito questioned whether the hypothetical "Human Sacrifice Channel" would be banned. The law exempts content with educational, political, historical, or other social value, and Chief Justice John Roberts implied in his questioning that he considers those guidelines too broad and subjective.