The Supreme Court announced this week it will review a lower court decision striking down a federal animal cruelty law as a violation of the First Amendment.
The court's decision to take the case, announced Monday, was made without comment but it calls to question the decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which ruled last summer that the animal cruelty law is too broad in scope and covers protected speech.
Robert Stevens, of Pittsville, Va., was convicted in Pennsylvania of selling pit bull fighting videos. He advertised in an underground newsletter called the Sporting Dog Journal which publishes the results of illegal dogfights.
But that conviction was overturned when the Third Circuit concluded Congress lacked compelling interest to pass such a law when all 50 states have laws prohibiting animal cruelty. The judges also found unpersuasive comparisons made between the harm of videos like the ones Stevens had and those showing child pornography. They said the animal pictures weren't of the same magnitude.
The government asked the Court to take the case to overturn the Third Circuit's analysis. It argued anyone profiting from "the intentional infliction of suffering on vulnerable creatures play no essential role in the expression of ideas"
The Court will likely hear the case in the fall.