Because Robert J. Stevens managed to persuade a court that his dog-fighting business was legitimate, and that shutting it down would mean a breach of his First Amendment rights, now animal crush videos, in which kittens, puppies and other small pets are crushed to satisfy fetishes, are legal. Animal rights activists are in a rage about this, and have asked another court to overturn the decision made last year, and reintroduce severe punishments for all acts of cruelty involving animals.
The Supreme Court is urged to overthrow a decision made by the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit of Philadelphia, which cleared Stevens and his business of the 37 months of jail he was supposed to do.
In addition, the previous ruling overthrew a law introduced by Bill Clinton in 1999, which stated that selling videos of crushed animals was strictly prohibited and punishable by prison and heavy fines. Following the trial in Philadelphia, the court decided to remove the law altogether, leaving room for a dramatic increase in the relatively little-spread phenomenon.
Currently, from a legal standpoint, dog-fighting and animal cruelty is against the law, but selling videos depicting such gruesome scenes is not. Even at the time the bill was passed, both Clinton and Congress agreed that allowing people to profit from these films would not make them go away, even if the depicted actions were illegal. At the time, one such video was sold for anything between $15 and $300, to a relatively small niche of “fans.”
Now, the solicitor general for the United States has asked the Supreme Court to hear the case that activists have as soon as possible. They are planning to ask for a complete ban on both the videos and the acts themselves, so as to have captured culprits cornered from all legal points.
According them, the highest law complex in the country could only reinstate the law if the judges removed animal cruelty from the incidence of the First Amendment.
The way to do this is by placing it alongside other exempted categories, such as fighting words, obscenity, non-obscene pornography involving children and the likes. Legal experts say that this wouldn't be too difficult to do, if the will is there. In the meantime, anyone who has a camera, a puppy or kitten, and a woman in high heels can make such a video, depicting extreme animal cruelty, and sell it for money online.