Free Speech and Dog Fights

October 8, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a Virginia documentary film maker’s use of historical dog fight video footage is protected under the First Amendment.  This case stirring up some controversy in our post Michael Vick world. Robert Stevens was convicted in 2005 of knowingly selling depictions of animal cruelty in violation of 18 U.S.C. 48 for selling videos of dog fights and hunting excursions. He was not accused of participating in the fights and hunts depicted in the film, but simply with editing and distributing the footage. Mr. Stevens has the NRA and ACLU on his side, but he’s got plenty of enemies, too. The ASPCA, The Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Humane Society have all filed amicus briefs against him. Yesterday’s oral arguments seemed to be going Stevens’ way.

Update: The Supreme Court has struck down the law under which Mr. Stevens was prosecuted, as being overly broad and violative of the First Amendment. Visit this link to read the court opinions.

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