Today’s ruling in U.S. v. Stevens striking down the federal law that bans the depiction of animal cruelty is the second decision this term invalidating a statute on free speech grounds. The other is Citizens United v. FEC. You may have heard of it. But there could be a third. We still await the ruling on the federal terrorism material support statute (Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project).
February’s argument in that case indicated the justices aren’t sure how to proceed, so it is not so much of a slam dunk as the animal cruelty case. Your blogger reported on the three cases back in February:
Striking down all three laws on free speech grounds in one term “would be unusual but not unprecedented,” according to Daniel Ortiz, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law.
The last time he could remember it happening was in 2001, he said. In total the court has struck down parts of congressional acts due to free speech concerns 20 times since 1985.
It will be interesting to see what happens.