12 May 2010

Constitution: First Amendment

Stephen Kershnar
Animal-Cruelty Videos and the Supreme Court
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
May 11, 2010

A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court in United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. ___ (2010) by an 8-1 decided that a statute (18 U.S.C. 48) that prohibited the portrayal of acts harmful to animals was unconstitutional. The law made it a criminal penalty of up to five years in prison for anyone who creates, sells, or possesses a depiction of animal cruelty if done for commercial gain. It defined “animal cruelty” as one in which “a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed,” if that conduct violates federal or state law where the creation, sale, or possession took place. It thus criminalized the commercial depiction of activity that is already illegal. It exempted depictions that have serious social value. Scientific, educational, and artistic videos are the sort of depictions that might have enough social value.

The defendant, Robert Stevens, sold videos of pit bulls fighting each other and attacking other animals (specifically, a wild boar and a domestic farm pig). His videos included dogfights from the 60’s and 70’s and recent dogfights in Japan, where it is allegedly legal.

There is a strong case for the law. It was intended to stop the interstate market for crush videos. These videos involve the intentional torture and killing of helpless animals such as cats, dogs, mice, hamsters, and monkeys. These videos are sexually arousing to some consumers. Justice Alito provides a graphic description of one such video involving a woman and a kitten that is absolutely disgusting.

Congress’s motivation in passing such a law was that the only effective way of stopping this criminal conduct (it is illegal in all 50 states and D.C.) is to make it unprofitable. Without the law, the filmmakers are hard to prosecute because the videos are made in secret and often do not show the faces of the women torturing the animals or the video’s time and location. In the rare cases when such perpetrators are identified, they effectively defend themselves by arguing that prosecutor cannot prove the location in which the film was made (thus, the state lacks jurisdiction) or that the statute of limitations has not run (thus, it is too late to prosecute). When President Clinton signed the law, his signing statement indicated that it would cover only crush videos and nothing else, not even dog fighting.

The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice Roberts, found the law unconstitutional. Roberts noted that there are areas of expression that are unprotected by the First Amendment, including obscenity, child pornography, and incitement. He declined to include animal cruelty on the list because it was historically unprotected. The government countered that such speech had so little value that it was unworthy of First Amendment protection. Both arguments are weak. Contra Roberts, a prohibition on expression does not become constitutionally valid just because it’s been around for a long time. On the other hand, the Constitution does not authorize Congress to decide what expression is worth protecting.

Roberts then argued that the statute was overbroad. That is, it criminalized constitutionally protected speech. Roberts argued that it banned depictions of animal suffering beyond crush videos, animal-fighting videos, and other forms of extreme animal cruelty. He reasoned that because the statute covered any illegal treatment of animals and only made exception for material with serious social value, it prohibited hunting videos. He observed that most hunting videos are recreational and thus lack serious social value. Interestingly, Roberts noted that the government provided no explanation of why videos of hunting or Spanish bullfighting have more social value than those of Japanese dog fighting.

The government responded that it would limit its prosecution to extreme cruelty. Roberts dismissed this silly argument. An unconstitutional statute should not be upheld because the government promises to use it responsibly. Roberts ducked the most difficult question, which is whether a narrow ban on crush videos and deadly animal fights would be constitutional.

In dissent, Justice Alito argued that the case should be sent back to the lower court to address whether the narrow ban was constitutional. He argued that the statute was limited to extreme animal cruelty (crush videos and deadly animal fights) and the court got it wrong when it suggested that the statute covers hunting videos. Alito argued that under the statute, such videos were protected because they do not focus on animal cruelty and have serious social value and because Congress did not intend to prohibit them. He argued that this statute was similar to the Court’s previous treatment of child pornography. Like a state law prohibiting child pornography, the ban on depicting animal cruelty was the only effective means by which to prevent horrible and already illegal activity from occurring and the harm prevented easily outweighs the social value of the videos.

Consider the issue of whether the narrow ban would be constitutional. At issue is whether, as a constitutional matter, such material may be banned if it is the only effective way to prevent such abuse. The Constitution includes the basic rule that various social goals are not to be pursued by preventing people from accessing various subject matters or ideas. The Supreme Court opened the door to this when in it allowed states and local governments to ban obscenity (hardcore pornography). It is hard to say what ideas or value obscenity and animal-cruelty videos have, nevertheless they do appear to be express a viewpoint, even if only an aesthetic one.

The sort of debate that Roberts and Alito got into over whether hunting videos had serious social value is not in the text of the Constitution. Nor was it part of the original intent of those who wrote the Bill of Rights or the original understanding of the people when it was passed. Instead, this issue looks like something the legislature should consider. The latter is better able to determine whether deer hunting videos have serious social value.

Also, there is an oddity in that while the justices and members of Congress were outraged by the dog fighting videos, and they are horrific, it is alleged by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others that factory farms treat pigs and chickens in ways that are comparably horrific. That they do so in private and for taste rather than entertainment is irrelevant.

If the statute is rewritten to be a narrow ban on crush and animal-fighting videos, the Court will not be able to duck the issue. The narrow ban might be the only effective way to protect innocent animals from being tortured for sexual entertainment. It thus falls under one of the government’s core functions: protecting individuals from harm.

On the other hand, the statute targets expression rather than the underlying victimization. It thus conflicts with the First Amendment’s text and the original intent behind it. We should hesitate to ignore the Constitution. Even when the expression has minimal value and even if the depicted conduct is filthy and destructive, carving exceptions into the Constitution lays the groundwork for the government to target other areas of free speech.

15 comments:

季洪雅 said...

人類最大的悲劇不是死亡,而是沒有掌握有意義的人生........................................

玄雨 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。...............................................................

DM said...

come see the latest updates, you little f*cker...

_______________

the writing on the wall...

f*ck you very much!


Atheists!!!

**************************
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6e/Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage.jpg

************************************
see, you degenerates have last names like first names...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

_______________________________________

http://i766.photobucket.com/albums/xx302/AtheismPics/fsmlogo.png



Now look at this!

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/63/GoldCalf.jpg



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_calf



http://i60.servimg.com/u/f60/15/20/06/10/fsmwor11.jpg


DOUBLE!

FOR THE WIN!!!

Visit for the BOOBQAUKE - 911


http://dissidentphilosophy.lifediscussion.net/philosophy-f1/the-boobquake-911-t1310.htm#22765

Bob0104byWas0104ham said...

樂觀進取,勇往直前,持之以恒,是克服困難的妙方。......................................................

韋于倫成 said...

得意人,聽腳步聲就知道。 ....................................................

韋于倫成 said...

一個人想法的大小,決定他成就的大小。 ....................................................

志文 said...

走光圖性關係情色vcdav寫真集台灣色情網台灣辣妹辣妹聊天室裸女寫真淫娃網免費視訊辣妹一夜情貼圖情色下載色情vcdav網女生奶頭情色影音色論壇成人影片交流性幻想女生自慰影片美女性交辣妹裸體色情美女情色交友自慰圖成人自拍貼圖上空秀黃色圖片情色性愛辣妹胸部一絲不掛成人網址成人18禁台灣性網一夜情人淫妹性愛招式脫衣辣妹視訊自拍成人色情網色情漫畫
色情漫畫

侯郁順 said...

成人 免費視訊影音觀賞 聊天網 免費h卡通 0401交友 台灣女優 性感裸體寫真 免費影片線上觀看 本土自拍偷拍露點照 免費豆豆聊天室 愛愛 情趣丁字褲 成人遊戲18禁 少女裸體圖片 嘟嘟影城85c 免費a圖a片 美眉情色網 麗的色情遊戲 一夜情短片 av383tv影片 完美女人聊天室 玩美女人影音視訊 性感熱辣美女寫真 裸睡的辣妹圖片 人妻自拍畫廊 超熟女性愛 視訊聊天 空姐免費a片 a圖網情色貼圖 寫真 85cc卡通影城 杜蕾斯成人 微風 嘟嘟 av女優777 情色貼圖片 台灣援交自拍影片 情人視訊聊天室 鋼管辣妹 免費av 洪爺性愛貼圖 大奶裸體辣妹 www.sex520.com 電話下載片 日本巨乳貼圖 性愛自拍圖貼 後宮電影院女優 限制級 0204 性愛影片觀看 內褲走光

清民 said...

你的部落格不錯哦,支持!!!!@@ ........................................

07_TeddyF_Silvey0 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。...........................................................................

彥安彥安 said...

色情視訊電話色情美眉寫真色情片免色情區色情片看小2館小小遊戲女性愛技巧女性做愛技巧女性高潮圖女同志天室女同志色圖片情網站女同志色網站女同志區女同志聊天?女同志影片線上看女同動畫女同聊天網女同聊天?女同圖片女身遊戲女性性愛技巧女性高潮用品小可愛圖片小老鼠咆嘯分享論壇小弟影片網小杜情網小肚小野貓貼圖小陰唇貼圖區gba真實賽車遊戲下載專區 vul3小遊戲聊天室ut色情影片

聖妃 said...

女傭調教 女生自衛 夫妻交換 大腿內側 夜未眠成 嘟嘟情人 嘟嘟圖片 同志色教 吉澤明步 台中夜店 台北夜店 台灣同志 台灣ki 出包王女 凹凸電影 凌虐俠女 免費女同 免費女傭 免費圖片 免費同志 免費動畫 免費黃色 免費貼影 免費色片 免費dv 免費線上 -qq美美 jp素人 h文小說 辣媽寫真 辣媽哺乳 黃色珍藏 麗的線上 貼圖片區 高雄夜店 視訊kk 西洋美女 電影線上 阿賓小說 阿賓色慾 蓬萊仙山 色片直播 美女自衛 美國色片 美美色網 線上收看 線上動畫 素人寫真 素人大全 短片線上

jackveronic said...

情人視訊 麻辣視訊聊天網 av sex85ccmovie影城 sogo 視訊聊天室 玩美女人視訊網 視訊美女jealousy 免費a片線上觀看s383視訊 hilive avhigh情色視訊 美國免費 aa 片試看 亞洲成人交友 情人視訊網080 線上aa片免費看av影片 aa影片下載城 兼職援交,性感辣妹,新浪視訊 無碼av女優, 色美眉部落格 2 台中援交友留言成人 視訊 色色網 色咪咪貼影片34c辣妹貼圖 線上免費av18禁 無碼下載56 com影片下載 jp成人a 片 3com視訊 免費視訊 d736 成人漫畫區,熊貓成人貼,嘟嘟成人網 20jack主入口 s18x色片 視訊妹,aa片免費看 小魔女自拍天堂微風成人 午夜成人 免費視訊聊天medbooks 18成人免費 4u成人網 免費視訊wwaf 免費看黃色電影 yam交友美女短片免費試看 情色視訊聊天 即時通視訊交友 a遊戲基地 視訊交友網50024 情色論壇 線上 aa 片試看,成人 視訊 0951影片下載日本av女優 免費A片foxy下載日本美女寫真集 豆豆視訊聊天室 情色av影片 34c玩美女人影音秀 girl5320成人視訊網 一元真爽黃電影 080免費影片線上直播bt程式下載

奕生 said...

來給你加油打氣!!!保重!!! .................................................................

家瑋 said...

失去金錢的人,失去很多;失去朋友的人,失去更多;失去信心的人,失去所有。..................................................................