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.
I will have a more to say on both issues in coming days but with respect to the latter, I refer you to a brief submitted by a group of animal law professors (including me) arguing in favor of its classification as a compelling state interest. You can also download a transcript of the oral argument here.