In nullifying the law, the Circuit Court refused to create a new exception to the First Amendment to apply to portrayals of animal cruelty. It noted that the Supreme Court “last declared an entire category of speech unprotected” by the Amendment in 1982 (in New York v. Ferber, involving child pornography). The Circuit Court rejected a government argument that the depiction of animal cruelty was analogous to the depiction of child pornography.Protected speech?
[T]he Justice Department argued that the 1999 law is narrow in scope, applying only to a “particularly harmful class of speech,” only when that is done for commercial gain, and only when the particular depiction has “no serious societal value.”
April 20, 2009
Congress made it a crime, and the Third Circuit said it violated the First Amendment. Today, the Supreme Court took cert.