United States v. Stevens
- Case Date: 6/16/2009
- Project Name: Protecting America's Freedom: National Security and Defense
On April 20, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a felony conviction for selling videos depicting animal torture. The Court held that the animal cruelty statute under which the defendant was convicted was unconstitutionally overbroad because it prohibited significant amounts of constitutionally protected speech. The decision was a setback for WLF, which filed a brief urging that the conviction be upheld. WLF argued that selling visual depictions of criminal conduct is not entitled to First Amendment protection when the result of such sales is to finance the underlying criminal conduct. The Court left open the possibility that those who distribute videos of dog fighting and other extreme forms of animal cruelty might still be prosecuted if Congress were to adopt a more narrowly drawn statute. But the Court said that the statute was too broad to pass constitutional muster, interpreting it as even permitting in some instances the prosecution of those who distribute hunting videos.
More Information and Downloads:
6/16/2009: Download the Brief
Litigation Update: Court Strikes Down Federal Law Banning Sale of Animal Torture Video