As reported, the United States Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a law that the Chief Justice was concerned could result in prison sentences of up to 5 years for selling pictures or video of hunting:
In an 8-1 ruling, the United States Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional a federal law which criminalized the sale of “any depiction” in which “a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed.” . . . As an example of his concern for the over-broadness of this law, Chief Justice John Roberts stated that the law could potentially be used to ban TV shows about hunting, as well as educational videos. The Court stated that while the government had given assurances that it would enforce the law only against commercial portrayals of “extreme cruelty,” the Court would not uphold an unconstitutional law “merely because the government promises to use it responsibly.” However, the Supreme Court went on to note that a more narrowly worded law would likely be held constitutional. The Court also stated that today’s decision in no way prevents prosecutions for acts of animal cruelty (e.g. dog fighting) themselves.
As I’ve said before, I am not a hunter. That is not because I have anything against hunting, but rather because it just doesn’t interest me. However, I fully support the rights of hunters. Indeed, given the way that the deck often seems stacked against gun rights and gun owners, both hunters and n0n-hunters should recognize our shared cause and work to ensure that gun rights are protected across the board.
I also fully support free speech, and was troubled by the broad reach of this law. I won’t belabor that point here, since the focus of this website is gun rights rather than free speech, but will note the following: The right to free speech is perhaps one of the best things about our country. Free speech is essential to the functioning of our political system, and is in large part what separates us from oppressive 3rd world regimes. Any law that proposes to limit free speech should be given the highest degree of scrutiny, as should any politician who assures us citizens that the law is there to “protect us.”
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