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April 20, 2010

Supreme Court Shoots Down Law Hostile to Hunting Videos

The National Shooting Sports Foundation applauds the decision by the Supreme Court today that strikes down a federal law against animal cruelty videos because the law was so broadly written that it could have been used to ban videos and television content related to hunting.

No one supports actual animal cruelty, which is already illegal in all 50 states, as the court noted in its 8-1 ruling. The problem with the statute is that it criminalized depictions of hunting, thereby violating the First Amendment right of free speech. No one has more respect for wildlife than hunters, America's original conservationists.

NSSF helped alert the outdoor media and wildlife conservation community to the potential threat that this case, United States v. Stevens, represented. Two of the largest outdoor media organizations, the Professional Outdoor Media Association and the Outdoor Writers Association of America, objected to the law in friend-of-the-court briefs. NSSF also filed a friend-of-the-court brief.

Patricia Millet, the attorney for Stevens, called NSSF's brief "fantastic" and credited the briefs that NSSF encouraged to be filed by outdoor media groups and others as being "influential for the court."

"The NSSF brief made a vital contribution to the court's decision-making," said Ms. Millet. "Mr. Stevens and I remain very grateful for the support the NSSF gave to his case."

In a press release, the Professional Outdoor Media Association commented, "The First Amendment rights of traditional outdoor sports journalists, those who cover legal hunting and fishing and promote the enjoyment of these American heritage sports, are protected. The impact of this decision on POMA members, all journalists, and the outdoor industry can not be overstated."

The National Law Journal ranked the Stevens case as one of the six most important cases of the Supreme Court's current term. Another case important to firearms owners, McDonald v. Chicago, also made this "short list."

Read The Washington Post story about the Stevens case.

Read the court's decision.

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Categories: Hunting