WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court announced today that it would consider whether to revive a federal law banning the sale of images of animal cruelty. A federal appeals court ruled that the law illegally restricted free speech.
The justices said today that they would look at the decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia which also overturned the conviction of Robert Stevens of Pittsville, Va. In 2005, Stevens was convicted and sentenced to 37 months in prison for selling videos of pit bull fights.
The appeals court described one video as including a "gruesome depiction of a pit bull attacking the lower jaw of a domestic farm pig."
The government says it has a "compelling interest in protecting animals from wanton acts of cruelty."
The Humane Society of the United States, backing the government, said that the 1999 law played a critical role in stopping the spread of so-called crush videos that show women crushing to death small animals, often with their bare feet or high-heeled shoes.
The case, U.S. v. Stevens, 08-769, is to be argued in the fall.