Sunday, July 12, 2020

Supreme Court: Depiction of Animal Cruelty Constitutional

Today, the US Supreme Court handed down the correct decision concerning free speech and the depiction of animal cruelty. The case, United States v. Stevens, involved a challenge to a federal law that prohibited the sale or possession for “commercial gain” of material that depicts living animals being “intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed.” The Court declared the statute unconstitutional on the grounds that it was overbroad. Justice Alito was the lone dissenter. Chief Justice Roberts seemed to suggest that a law limited to “crush” videos instead would pass muster.

You may remember that this was the case where UCLA Law Professor Eugene Volokh (The Volokh Conspiracy) and two other lawyers wrote a “friend of the court brief” (“amicus”) on behalf of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the College Art Association. The amicus focuses in part on “avant-garde and conceptual art,” Duchamp, Herman Nitsch, and Wim Delvoye’s tattooed pigs. You can access the amicus via an earlier post I wrote, here.

BBC coverage here; NPR here; Chicago Tribune here;  LA Times here; Thomas Jefferson Center here.


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