WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- A case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving dogfighting videos has divided animal-rights groups and free-speech advocates, authorities said.
The nation's highest court on Oct. 6 is to hear the case of Robert Stevens, 69, who was convicted of depicting animal cruelty in compilations of old dogfighting videos he sold, The New York Times reported Saturday.
"For centuries, the American pit bull terrier has reigned supreme as the gladiator of the pit," Stevens said in one videotape, which includes film footage from Japan, where dogfights are legal.
Stevens' conviction was overturned last year when an appeals court struck down the 1999 federal "depiction of animal cruelty" law as a violation of the First Amendment.
Now animal-rights groups want the court to declare depiction of animal cruelty a category so vile its warrants no First Amendment protection, the Times reported. The only other time the court has done that was in 1982 on the subject of child pornography, the newspaper said.
Media groups, including the Times, filed a brief supporting Stevens. The 1999 law "imperils the media's ability to report on issues related to animals," the brief said.