Today, Co-chairs of the Animal Protection Caucus Reps. Jim Moran (D-VA) and Elton Gallegly (R-CA) introduced, along with 54 other cosponsors, a bipartisan bill authored by Gallegly and designed to overcome the Supreme Court's decision to strike down federal law barring the sale of so-called "crush videos," which graphically depict the abuse and killing of animals.
Gallegly's original bill passed the House in 1999 on a bipartisan vote of 372-42 and in the Senate by unanimous consent. President Clinton signed it into law. For 10 years, it shut down the crush video industry.
"Violence is not a First Amendment issue; it is a law enforcement issue," Gallegly said. "Ted Bundy and Ted Kaczynski tortured or killed animals before killing people. The FBI, U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice consider animal cruelty to be one of the early warning signs of potential violence by youths. This law is one step toward ending this cycle of violence."
"The Supreme Court decision is a blow to the effort to prevent animal cruelty and a victory for the profiteers behind the "crush' video industry, which glorifies the killing of defenseless animals," said Moran. "For 10 years, federal law had worked to dramatically reduce the proliferation of these videos. Now, Congress must act to restore these commonsense protections against animal cruelty."
The more narrowly focused legislation would prevent video depictions of drowning, impaling, burning and crushing of animals, while addressing constitutional concerns outlined by the court.
"Animal abuse and profiting from these actions are wrong," said Rep. Betty Sutton (D-OH), a member of the Animal Protection Caucus and original cosponsor of the bill. "We must close the loopholes to crack down and end the trade in crush videos. Today, we are unequivocally restating, with a narrowly tailored measure, that it is unacceptable to videotape and sell extreme, cruel, and illegal depictions of the torturing, maiming, or mutilation of animals."
"When the law banning animal cruelty videos was passed in 1999, the videos depicting the crushing of small animals virtually disappeared from the market," said Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), another original cosponsor. "The implication by Chief Justice Roberts that the law should be circumscribed to require that the depicted conduct be "cruel' will be addressed by this new bill."
"Animal cruelty is not something to celebrate and circulate online," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), an original cosponsor and Animal Protection Caucus member. "On the heels of yesterday's Supreme Court decision, we're taking immediate and bipartisan action to protect animals without infringing on the right to free speech. The bottom line is that we need to protect animals from being tortured or killed in a manner that is criminal or morally reprehensible. No one should be allowed to profit from so-called crush videos or other images of animal cruelty."
"While I am disappointed in its ruling, I have the highest respect for the Supreme Court," Gallegly said. "They left the door ajar for us to continue to outlaw these heinous actions and we intend to do so."
"I refuse to stand by while people profit from the mutilation and torture of helpless puppies, kittens and other animals." said Moran. "I look forward to continuing to working with Congressman Gallegly to respond to this decision while preserving the constitutional freedoms all Americans hold dear."