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Animal Law

Animal-crush-video ban is upheld by 5th Circuit; obscenity restriction helps save law

Posted Jun 16, 2014 8:44 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal appeals court has upheld a federal ban on animal-crush videos that restricts its reach to “obscene” depictions of animal cruelty.

The New Orleans–based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that the law does not violate the First Amendment, report Legal Times and ABA Media Alerts. How Appealing links to the opinion (PDF).

The law bans videos if they are “obscene” and they depict animals that are “intentionally crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury.” The law specifies it does not apply to the slaughter of animals for food; hunting, trapping or fishing; or customary veterinary or agricultural husbandry practices.

The obscenity requirement was among the restrictions added after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a prior version of the law in 2010 on the grounds it was overbroad and violated the First Amendment.

The two defendants who challenged the new law were prosecuted for creating and distributing a video showing the killing of a kitten, puppy and rooster. Prosecutors said one of the defendants recorded the video and the other, a scantily clad woman, uttered phrases such as “You like that?” as she tortured and killed the animals. The case is United States v. Richards.

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