Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Animal cruelty

Today the Supreme Ones took up the conviction of Robert Stevens for animal cruelty. Stevens cobbled together dog fighting footage into videos which he sold for "educational purposes." He was convicted under a federal law banning animal cruelty. The conviction and the law was struck down by a Philadelphia appeals court as unconstitutionally vague and impinging upon the Freedom of Speech.

The prospect of this case being argued at the Supreme Court today fueled the morning coffee hour discussion and a rather surprising unanimity among the various political wings of my crowd which cover the far left and reactionary right wing (and right wing Chuck is a dog lover.) We all agreed that as heinous as dog fighting is, the idea that Congress can enact a law that would prosecute a douche nozzle like this Stevens guy for selling this video violates our sense of personal freedom. As the acting law professor I threw in the parallel track of child pornography and the rationale for holding this category of speech as unprotected. In a nutshell, child pornography is unprotected because the market for the material fuels the sex crime against children necessary for the production of the pornography. My pal Chris did a pretty good imitation of John Houseman in sussing out the issues attendant to this special category of speech though Chris does tend to perseverate about his favorite first amendment case: the Bong Hits of Jesus case. (Morse v. Frederick: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/opinions/06pdf/06-278.pdf)

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