Pointing to the First Amendment, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday nixed a federal law from 1999 that made the creation, possession or sale of depictions of animal cruelty illegal, despite the Obama administration’s request that the top court consider the animal rights angle in its decision. Chief Justice John Roberts pointed to the example of possession or distribution of hunting images in Washington, D.C., where hunting is illegal, in his majority opinion explaining the ruling. –KA

The Christian Science Monitor:

Roberts said the statute created a criminal prohibition of “alarming breadth.”

“A depiction of entirely lawful conduct runs afoul of the ban if that depiction later finds its way into another state where the same conduct is unlawful,” he said.

He noted that since hunting is illegal in Washington, D.C., the law would extend to “any magazine or video depicting lawful hunting, so long as that depiction is sold within the nation’s capital.”

Roberts rejected pledges by the government that federal prosecutors would only enforce the statute against acts of what it viewed as “extreme cruelty.”

“The First Amendment protects against the government; it does not leave us at the mercy of noblesse oblige,” Roberts wrote. “We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the government promised to use it reasonably.”

Read more

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig