Supreme Court Overturns Law Protecting Animals

Never did I think I’d see the day I found myself agreeing with–and actually applauding–Justice Samuel A. Alito. 

But alas that day has come, as he was the lone Supreme Court Justice who dissented against the Court’s early morning decision to reverse a federal law prohibiting videos showing the torture and death of animals. 


Here’s the deal, in a nauseatingly overwhelming decision, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against the law criminalizing the making, selling or possession of videos depicting animal cruelty for commercial gain. The Court’s reasoning: they said the federal law was “substantially overbroad, and therefore invalid under the First Amendment.” Really, Supreme Court…really?!

Believe me, I’m a staunch supporter of the First Amendment. In fact, I’m not naïve and understand it’s precisely what enables me to share this opinion with you right now. And it’s precisely the reason I’m allowed to blast the Supreme Court for their despicable decision, which I am most certainly about to do. 


Apparently one of the major hiccups of the law was the fear some had that hunting videos and/or images could unjustly be banned because of it. Interesting.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. The kind of videos this law prohibits are those that highlight vicious dogfighting footage and “crush” videos. For those not familiar with the term, crush videos are sexual fetish videos depicting women crushing animals to death with stilettos or their bare feet. Oh yes, how unjust to criminalize these masterful works of art. 

The law was passed in 1999 in an attempt to curb animal cruelty. The government then argued that showing animals being “intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed” was so explicit — it should be banned. Kind of hard to argue with that one.


In one of the most vomit-inducing quotes I read involving today’s decision, lawyers over at Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression previously argued the government was wrong in its belief that animal cruelty should qualify as an exception to First Amendment protection, similar to that which is awarded child pornography: “Morals, values, religious beliefs, customs and laws compel adult Americans to provide far greater protection to children than they do to animals or even other adults.”

Now although some of you may agree with the lawyers’ opinion, I have major issues with its seeming arrogance. In no way does the argument justify removing any of the already-pathetically weak laws “protecting animals” currently in existence. There’s nothing wrong with wanting humans and animals to be equally protected. There’s no reason strength in protection for one, needs to result in weakened protection for the other.


With this ruling, the Supreme Court is opening the door for animal abusers on a commercial level. We’re talking about people who profit from making videos that show animals mercilessly ripping each other apart, or those that play into some humans’ twisted sexual fantasies involving the violent death of animals. I just don’t see how protecting hunting videos outweighs deterring such heinous acts of cruelty and violence.

And neither does Justice Alito who disagreed with striking down “in its entirety a valuable statute that was enacted not to suppress speech, but to prevent horrific acts of animal cruelty — and in particular, the creation and commercial exploitation of ‘crush videos,’ a form of depraved entertainment that has no social value.”

As much as I believe in our freedom of speech, I believe it’s our obligation to protect animals from abuse, torture and objectification. The Supreme Court’s decision today has made this feat that much more difficult.



Outraged by this ruling? Tell Congress how you feel. Sign the Care2 petition today!

More from Care2:

For more on this story, see what Alicia Graef and Jessica Pieklo have to say.


photo credit: thanks to protographer23 via flickr for the amazing pic


W. C
W. C2 months ago

Thank you for the information.

William C
William C2 months ago

Thanks for caring.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

No more animal cruelty

Shanti S.
S S4 years ago

Thank you.

Frances Darcy
Frances Darcy4 years ago

Interesting reason... that "hunting videos" contain scenes of animal cruelty..and could UNJUSTLY be banned.....This proves what many people know but lawmakers refuse to admit.. That HUNTING is a cruel sport.

Linda Gilbert
Gregory Gilbert4 years ago

The Robert's Court may be the worst of all time. Certainly the worst since the Dred Scott decision which helped precipitate the civil war.

As the reasoning of the court: "Morals, values, religious beliefs, customs and laws compel adult Americans to provide far greater protection to children than they do to animals or even other adults.” This is the community standards argument. I could live with that if it were applied even-handedly or actually reflected community standards. But it only seems to matter if community standards matches up with the judges own political beliefs.

I understand that messing with the first amendment is fraught with danger and I'm sure some of the jurists preferred to risk erring on the side of free speech, but jeez guys.

I, for one, am sickened by this political supreme court that calls corporations citizens. In choosing a presidential candidate I look to what kind of Justice the candidate would appoint if elected they were elected.

Nicolas Nasrallah

Unbelievable that these judges are allowing such sick and demented practice to take place. I have no respect for any human let be a judge or anyone else that condones the killing of innocent and helpless creature. These people I call sick cowards . I ask the Judges to reconsider the law and do it fast.

Liling O4 years ago

These people do not deserved the noble titles to be addressed as judges!

These people are giving law and justice a bad name!They do not deserves to be there!

Brent H.
Brent Harknett4 years ago

Sorry but I am a little confused on this. The dates of the SCOTUS decision and the filing of the signed petition were back in April 2010. I also saw something that stated OBAMA Administration had stopped this stating it was illegal or did I get it confused and backwards? Might have been, either way it is wrong! And SCOTUS really messed up on this one.

Aurea Walker

OMG, did the moronic judges see the crush videos before making their insane ruling? If I yell fire in a croweded room and there is no fire, jail time for me. Yet crush videos of living, loving innocent animals is "free speech" I truly do not know what country I am living in anymore. Kudos to judge Alito for his dissenting vote. Never thought I would side with judge Alito but then I guess love for animals make for strange bedfellows. I hope anonymous sources out the makers of crush videos so that they can be prosecuted for animal cruelty by us animal lovers. A good ass kicking by animals lovers to these dregs of the gutter might make them reconsider their cruelty. Out them please anonymous.