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April 20, 2009 3:37 PM

SCOTUS Takes Dogfighting Video Case

Posted by Zach Lowe

In January we mentioned several cases to watch as animal rights activists sought to restrict advertisements for illegal cockfighting implements and videos showing dogfighting--restrictions that concerned some First Amendment pundits worried about possible limits on free speech.

The central case involves a 1999 federal law that banned the sale of videos depicting dogfighting and other depictions of animal cruelty. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down the law as unconstitutional in the case of a Virginia man convicted of violating it. Both the Humane Society of the United States (as an amicus) and the U.S. Solicitor General asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, and today the Supremes agreed to take up the matter. 

Latham & Watkins is serving as outside counsel to the Humane Society. Partners L. Scott Ballenger and Maureen Mahoney are leading the firm's team on the case. (Mahoney has been in the news quite a bit lately for her representation of Ninth Circuit Judge Jay Bybee--author of one of the newly released torture memos--and ex-Qwest Communications CEO Joe Nacchio.) 

The Humane Society/Latham team has argued that the Third Circuit was wrong when it ruled that the 1999 law failed the strict scrutiny test required of any law that limits a form of speech. 

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