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The First Amendment Wins!

I have a slightly more detailed post up over at PAGunRights about today’s important win at the Supreme Court. It was a First Amendment fight that could have spelled the end for all outdoor magazines and any commercial sharing of hunting images across state lines.

There is so much to say about this case, and it calls for far more attention than I can give it right now. This a law that even Bill Clinton knew was unconstitutional when he signed it back in 1999. He added an order for the Justice Department to limit how it was enforced, but in their first ever prosecution, they strayed from that order. And because of that very stupid move, they set up a case that showed the law was overly broad and chilled free speech.

The odd bit here is that no one in the hunting community really noticed this law when it passed. Technically, publishing Pennsylvania bear hunting photos in an outdoor magazine that could be sold in New Jersey was a federal felony for a decade. But because no one was prosecuted, no one paid attention. The case that was brought against a person didn’t have to do with hunting, but dog fighting. Using video from an event that was legal in the location it was filmed, the defendant created a so-called “documentary” about dog fighting and sold it. It was not a recording of criminal activity, but perfectly lawful (in its location) activity. The feds declared that the mere depiction was a crime, which is why the outdoor media community would have been decimated if this law stood. Field & Stream would be contraband in DC because the District allows no hunting. Better hope that online forum with ads where you posted that picture of the deer killed with a crossbow doesn’t get read by someone where use of crossbows are illegal. It was that bad.

3 Responses to “The First Amendment Wins!”

  1. Anon R. D. says:

    Good coverage, Bitter. Thanks.

    A welcome result and an excellent opinion by Chief Justice Roberts.

  2. divemedic says:

    That is why, as abhorent as it is, I think that possession of child porn cannot be illegal under the first amendment. Why? Because it is not the film that is abhorrent, but the act that is occuring. The person doing the act should be jailed, but I can’t see how owning the film in any way affects the act itself. A person who commissions the act in order to film it is an accessory, and should be jailed.

    If the crime that is being filmed is so abhorrent as to make the film illegal, then it would follow that a security tape showing a murder would be illegal to own, possess, or view. Instead, it is rightly the murder and the murderer that are prosecuted, and not the owner of the film.

    Youtube and other such sites have many videos depicting murders and felony batteries taking place. Should they be prosecuted for the films?

  3. Nathaniel says:

    I was surprised that Alito disagreed. He pretty squarely put himself in the “banning it must be constitutional if it offends community decency standards!” camp. I thought he was generally more libertarian than that.

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