Supreme Court Hears Arguments on U.S. v. Stevens

David Cassuto

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.

10 Responses

  1. […] Supreme Court Hears Arguments on U.S. v. Stevens « Animal Blawg […]

  2. Thanks for this, I had no idea the depth of precedent that was at stake in this case.

  3. So, I’ve been reading the oral argumentation. I am curious, when Millett talks about this statute requiring alchemy, instead of interpretation, Scalia reacts as if alchemy is a legal term, just one not used very often anymore. Is that a true take, or is he making a joke?

  4. To my knowledge, it’s just a joke. It’s no term of art that I’m familiar with. It would make an interesting legal term, though. I may have to start using it…

  5. Prof Cassuto
    Just out of curiosity, what did you think of the arguments that were made on both sides? Did you feel that one side was stronger, argument wise not necessarily perspective wise?

  6. Well, I would say the brief for Stevens was weak but the oral arguments (w/the justices’ help) were much stronger. I thought the govt brief was good but it didn’t deal well (I don’t know how anyone could) w/the root problem with the statute — which is that it puts law enforcement officials in the position of deciding when and how a depiction of animal cruelty is or is not worthwhile. I’m not sure I would invalidate the statute on these grounds but it’s a big, big problem.

  7. […] this last week. This blog post rounds up some of the major newspaper coverage of the case, this blog post has links to the oral arguments and an amicus brief by animal law professors, and Scu covers some […]

  8. Prof Cassuto
    The justices seemed to be assisting Stevens’ side more so than the gov’ts. Do you think this is indicative of how they will eventually rule?

  9. I do indeed…

  10. […] post and another, and another posting around the web Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)how everything is […]

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