Late last month PETA filed a suit against Hot’s Restaurant Group in Los Angeles County, CA, alleging that the defendant violated the California state law that went into effect earlier this year prohibiting the sale of foie gras. The essence of the complaint is that Hot’s Kitchen, the specific restaurant in question, has skirted the law by selling a hamburger for an increased price and including with the hamburger a “complimentary side of foie gras.” Being that foie gras is sold legally at gourmet restaurants around the country for a pretty penny, on its face Hot’s seems to be blatantly rebelling against California’s ban, taking a position common among many restaurant owners. Taking the ethical debate over foie gras (ahem) off the table for a moment, is what Hot’s Kitchen doing illegal? Continue reading
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The Shameless Self Promotion Desk is back! The most recent issue of the Journal of Animal Ethics has a piece by me offering some thoughts about U.S. v. Stevens. It’s titled: “United States v. Stevens: Win, Loss or Draw for Animals?” You can download it here. The abstract follows below:
Robert J. Stevens, proprietor of “Dogs of Velvet and Steel,” was indicted for marketing dog-fighting videos in violation of 18 U.S.C.§48, a law criminalizing visual or auditory depictions of animals being “intentionally mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed” if Continue reading
The New York “ag-gag” bill S 5172, designed to deter meth addicts from stealing anhydrous ammonia overdosed on reason and died today on the senate floor. Maybe the New York state representatives realized that the majority of meth labs in this country have been outsourced to Mexico.
Or maybe they realized that anhydrous ammonia is primarily used for plant/ soil fertilization and since factory farmed animals are not pasture raised, animal farmers probably don’t have that much NH3 lying around anymore. Continue reading
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Congress has introduced a new bill aimed at suppressing crush videos. In the meantime, the Court will review another content-based law – this one aimed at restricting violent video game sales to children. One wonders how the Stevens precedent will figure into deciding whether this California law is constitutional. More soon.
Filed under: animal law, Uncategorized | Tagged: animal law, california, Constitutional Law, content-based restrictions, crush videos, First Amendment, U.S. v. Stevens, violent video games | 1 Comment »
There’s little good here. In Stevens, the Supreme Court struck down a law that aimed at and succeeded in curbing the market for crush videos and other animal mutilation. To be fair, the law was seriously flawed. But the Court’s analysis is worse. However, the holding could have been worse still, so I am at least a little relieved as well as disappointed.
18 U.S.C. s. 48 banned depictions of cruelty “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 takes place.” It exempted depictions possessing “serious religious, political, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic value.”
Mr. Stevens operated a website called “Dogs of Velvet and Steel.” He marketed videos of dog fighting, of dogs attacking pigs, and other similar works. One would be hard pressed to find any redeeming social value to his wares and the Court makes no attempt to do so. In fact it spends very little time analyzing the law as it relates to Mr. Stevens. It instead focuses on the law’s potential applications to other cases not currently before it. As a result, the opinion runs far into the weeds. Continue reading
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The Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday in U.S. v. Stevens, wherein the the federal law banning trafficking in illegal depictions of animal cruelty has been ruled unconstitutional by the Third Circuit. The issues underlying this First Amendment case are complex and multi-layered (see posts here ) and there is much more to say. Among the issues the Court faces are whether the law unconstitutionally constrains protected speech solely on a content-based basis and also whether animal cruelty rises to the level of a compelling state interest that justifies overriding the presumption in favor of free speech.
We knew that the government would eventually invoke the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) and now it has. Earlier this year, authorities arrested 4 activists for alleged threats and vandalism against research facilities at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley and charged them under AETA. The defendants (known as the AETA 4) argue that the law should be struck down as unconstitutional and the judge is at least listening. We will be watching this one closely. AETA is an abomination (as I have argued here) but a good result in this case would be nothing short of astounding.