Court appears swayed by free speech argument in pit bull video case

WASHINGTON, DC (WIS) - Are videos depicting violence against animals protected by free speech laws or just plain animal cruelty? That's the question before the Supreme Court of the United States Tuesday.

In September 2007, WIS News 10 began an investigation into dog fighting videos. We found them popping up in several Midlands convenience store shelves, featuring bloody fights with dogs biting at each other's faces.
At that time, many of the store owners we talked to said they weren't even aware of the content of the DVDs. Those videos were quickly pulled from store shelves, but it seems South Carolina wasn't the only place they were being distributed.

The high court is now hearing a case out of Texas in which the plaintiffs claim the controversial videos should be protected under free speech laws.

The court heard arguments Tuesday on the Obama administration's efforts to reinstate a 10-year-old ban on production and sale of the videos.

Several justices suggested the law is too broad, and could apply to people who make films about hunting.

But the government's lawyer says Congress was careful to exempt hunting, educational, journalistic and other depictions from the law.

The lawyer for a man sentenced to three years in prison for videos he made about pit bull fights says Congress must use a "scalpel" and not a "buzzsaw" when restricting speech.

Animal rights groups and 26 states joined the administration in support of the law. Free speech groups, the NRA and hunters' organizations came out against it.

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