Can you Squish the First Amendment and make it Squeak?

Another one of my favorite cases is the dog fighting/squish video one, namely, US v. Stevens,  which is about:

The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” “[A]s a general matter, the First Amendment means that government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 535 U. S. 564, 573 (2002)

The case was regarding the following statute:

The statute restricts “visual [and] auditory depiction[s],” suchas photographs, videos, or sound recordings, depending on whether they depict conduct in which a living animal is intentionally harmed. As such, §48 is “‘presumptively invalid,’ and the Government bears the burden to rebut that presumption.” United States v. Playboy Entertain-ment Group, Inc., 529 U. S. 803, 817 (2000) (quoting
R. A. V. v. St. Paul, 505 U. S. 377, 382 (1992); citation omitted).

Notice, that the US Supremes said that the government had the  burden of proof to show validity of a statute that restricted speech.

ment has “permitted restrictions upon the content ofspeech in a few limited areas,” and has never “include[d] a freedom to disregard these traditional limitations.” Id., at 382–383. These “historic and traditional categories longfamiliar to the bar,” Simon & Schuster, Inc. v. Members of
N. Y. State Crime Victims Bd., 502 U. S. 105, 127 (1991) (KENNEDY, J., concurring in judgment)—including obscen-ity, Roth v. United States, 354 U. S. 476, 483 (1957), defa-mation, Beauharnais v. Illinois, 343 U. S. 250, 254–255 (1952), fraud, Virginia Bd. of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citi-zens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U. S. 748, 771 (1976), incitement, Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U. S. 444, 447–449 (1969) (per curiam), and speech integral to criminal conduct, Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U. S. 490, 498 (1949)—are “well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which havenever been thought to raise any Constitutional problem.” Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 571–572 (1942).

The First Amendment itself reflects a judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is not worth it. The Constitution is not a document “prescribing limits, and declaring that those limits may be passed at pleasure.” Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 178 (1803).

in an 8 to 1 decision, the SCOTS found the “anti squish video” law unconstitutional for being overly broad and impinging upon first amendment rights.

 

2 thoughts on “Can you Squish the First Amendment and make it Squeak?

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