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Showing posts from August, 2008


Robert J. Stevens was convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 48, a statute which prohibited the creation, possession or sale of depictions of animal cruelty with the intent to place the depiction in interstate commerce for profit. In United States v. Stevens, No. 05-2497, the Third Circuit, sitting en banc, ruled 18 U.S.C. § 48 unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Stevens had initially moved to have his indictment dismissed on the premise that 18 U.S.C. § 48 was an infringement on his right to free speech, but his motion was rejected and he was ultimately convicted by a jury and sentenced to 37 months imprisonment. On appeal, the circuit court overturned Stevens’ conviction. Stevens’ initial case was the first prosecution under this statute and similarly his appeal was the first constitutional review of the statute.

In ruling that 18 U.S.C. § 48 was unconstitutional, the Third Circuit found that depictions of animal cruelty did not fit into any of the existing categories of unprotec…