The Supreme Court has held 18 U. S. C. §48, the federal prohibition on depiction of animal cruelty, unconstitutional on its face, for many of the reasons cited by Ken in an earlier post on the case.
You may read the Court's opinion, an 8-1 decision authored by Chief Justice Roberts with Justice Alito in dissent, here.
The case background is that Robert J. Stevens is a sick loser who imports and sells Japanese dogfighting videos. Mr. Stevens was prosecuted for violation of the statute, which prohibits any depiction of animal cruelty (defined as "maiming, mutilating, torturing, wounding, or killing" animals) illegal in the state where the defendant resides, unless the depiction has "serious" artistic value.
The statute, according to the Court, is blatantly unconstitutional in that, as written, it goes far beyond the dog-fighting and "crush" videos (you don't want to know) Congress claimed to be outlawing, to prohibiting possession of Field & Stream in the District of Columbia, where hunting is illegal. Cockfighting videos would be legal in Puerto Rico, where the "sport" is legal, but illegal in all 50 states. Fishing magazines would be legal everywhere, but Goth music videos, all of which for some reason feature gasping fish out of water, might be criminal, though fish suffocation features prominently in each.
Of course the government, in defending the statute, says it would never seek to prosecute Field & Stream subscribers in DC, and would never imprison cockfight journalists in Puerto Rico. We just want to go after those evil dogfight video makers and the like. "Trust us."
Fortunately in this case the Court doesn't seem to trust the government, which receives a rebuke worth reading from the Chief Justice. As does Congress, for its incompetent drafting of a statute which, while intended to eliminate only one sick and obscene form of entertainment, does indeed by its terms ban hunting magazines in DC. Congress drafted an elephant of a law, to kill a gnat.
Think about that, the next time you hear someone demanding, "There ought to be a law." The people who vote for these laws as often as not don't understand what they're passing. The people who draft these laws sometimes don't understand what they're writing.
Update: This blog is sometimes an echo chamber.