United States v. Stevens Decided

July 27, 2009

Whether the First Amendment permits the government to criminalize the interstate sale or possession of any depiction of animal cruelty that is illegal where the depiction is created, sold or possessed, unless the depiction has serious value.

In 1999, Congress passed a law making it a crime to sell or possess depictions of animal cruelty that are illegal where the depiction is created, sold, or possessed, unless the depiction has serious value. In its brief defending the statute, the U.S. argues that the criminalized speech is not entitled to First Amendment protection. In response, the amicus brief submitted by the ACLU argues that speech should not be categorically excluded from the First Amendment based on the government’s assessment of its value, and that the constitutionality of this statute can and should be determined on its face without the need for case-by-case adjudication.

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