Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

ADI asks Congress to look again to protect animals from cruelty: Supreme Court Ruling

Posted: 22 April 2010. Updated: 22 April 2010

Animal Defenders International (ADI) urged Congress to take immediate action after a landmark Supreme Court ruling has left vulnerable animals without protection against extreme violence and cruelty. The Court decided that legislation passed ten years ago to prevent extreme acts of cruelty such as in dog fighting and “crush” videos, must be set aside.

Although the Court recognized that child pornography falls out of the realm of First Amendment free speech protection, it refused to extend the same protection to animals. Justifying its decision, the Court feared that the law as written would sweep too broadly, and could make illegal the commercial sale of hunting magazines, bull-fighting, or other legal acts that often result in harm to animals.

ADI believes that the killing of animals for videos for sexual or violent gratification is offensive to every compassionate citizen, not only animal rights advocates. Extreme and illegal acts of animal cruelty, such as animal fighting videos or “crush videos,” in which a woman in high-heeled shoes crushes a small and defenceless animal to death (including cats, dogs, monkeys, hamsters, or mice) must be outlawed. This is a matter of protection of the vulnerable, not freedom of speech.

Justice Samuel Alito disagreed with the majority’s ruling yesterday, writing in his dissent that the law at issue was not aimed at legitimate speech that warrants First Amendment protection, but rather was enacted “to prevent horrific acts of animal cruelty—in particular, the creation and commercial exploitation of ‘crush videos,’ a form of depraved entertainment that has no social value.” He notes that the Court’s decision is “likely to spurt a resumption of [crush video] production,” and “is unwarranted.” ADI agrees.

In reacting to the Supreme Court decision, Andrea Santarsiere, Legislative Affairs Manager for Animals Defender International, said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Court refused to include animal cruelty videos in the spectrum of speech that falls outside of the protections of the First Amendment. The law was intended to prosecute those profiting from the extreme pain and distress of innocent animals, and now those who could be prosecuted for such heinous crimes will walk free. ADI will urge Congress to act quickly in passing another law that will pass constitutional muster.”

However, while the Court struck down the law at issue as overly broad, the Court did “not decide whether a statute limited to crush videos or other depictions of extreme animal cruelty would be constitutional.” ADI therefore urges Congress and Rep. Elton Gallegly (R., Calif.), the original law’s sponsor, to act quickly to introduce narrower measure to outlaw the commercial sale of videos depicting extreme animal cruelty.

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For further information, contact ADI Press office:
Tel: 415 543 2344

In an 8-1 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court held as unconstitutional a law invalidating the commercial sale of videos depicting extreme animal cruelty.
The law was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, and was successful in its aims, making crush videos that were previously widely available on the internet difficult to find. Furthermore, in 2003, respondent Robert Stevens was convicted under the law for selling videotapes depicting pit bulls in dogfights and attacking other animals. Stevens challenged the law as unconstitutional, which began the path that led to the Supreme Court’s ruling today.

ABOUT Animal Defenders International (ADI):

With offices in Los Angeles, London and Bogota, ADI campaigns to protect animals in entertainment; replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming and other issues. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. Our evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.
ADI has succeeded through precision-led undercover investigations and scientific reports, to secure greater legal protection for animals in Europe, Central and South America and the Far East.

When governments and local authorities decide to ban the use of animals in travelling circuses, ADI assists with relocation of ex-circus animals. We have rescued and relocated lions, tigers, chimpanzees, monkeys, dogs, and horses around the world, including Mozambique, Italy, UK, Chile, Colombia, India, Greece, Portugal, Sweden.

ADI’s campaigns to end the suffering of animals in entertainment – from live shows like circuses to films and TV ads – has gained momentum as it is aimed at some of the world’s major brands such as Bombay Sapphire gin, Guinness, Coca Cola, Toyota, Saab, Diageo, D&G, Abbey, Barclaycard, Visa, Sony Ericcson, Unilever, Big Brother producer Endemol.

ADI campaigns for the replacement of animals in research and funds non-animal scientific and medical research. In particular ADI aims for a phase-out of the use of wild-caught primates in research. In 2007, ADI secured the adoption of Written Declaration 40/2007 by the European Parliament calling for an end to the use of apes and wild caught monkeys in experiments and for timetable to phase out all experiments on monkeys.

The Lord Dowding Fund for Humane Research (LDF) is the research wing of ADI. It awards grants totaling £300,000 a year to fund humane research across a wide range of fields, including microsurgery, toxicology, breast and lung cancer, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, cot death, cataracts and brain damage. Techniques supported include new and advanced methods of research such as cell culture, biotechnology, brain imaging and computer packages which replace the use of animals in the education of school and university level students.

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