WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court will have the last word on a federal law that bans the sale of films or photographs that show animals being tortured.
A federal appeals court ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it limited freedom of speech. The decision freed the only person convicted under the law, Robert Stevens, a Virginia man who sold videos of pit bulls killing pigs.
Stevens was tried in 2005 by a jury in Pittsburgh that took only 45 minutes to find him guilty.
The Justice Department asked the highest court to review the case, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday. The Solicitor General, who represents the government before the Supreme Court, filed a petition Monday.
In the petition, government lawyers say that there is a "moral interest in suppressing depictions that have no social value and that are created solely to depict suffering by animals."
Experts say the high court is more likely to hear this case because the petition comes from the Justice Department and the constitutionality of a federal law is at stake. If the court decides not to hear the case, the appeals court ruling would stand.