U.S. House passes bill to ban 'crush' videos, again

The U.S. Congress took an important first step yesterday toward restoring the ban on so-called "crush" videos that was struck down by the Supreme Court. The House approved a measure making it a federal crime to sell videos depicting animal cruelty.

The bill's lead sponsor, Rep. Elton Gallegly, (R-CA) said it responds to the court's free speech concerns while addressing animal crush videos which generally show women in high heels stomping on puppies or kittens.

The measure, which passed 416-3, is expected to win Senate approval as early as today.

The Associated Press reports:

The high court in April overturned the conviction of a Virginia man prosecuted under the 1999 law for selling dog-fighting videos. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the law was too broad and could allow prosecutions for selling hunting videos.

This bill is narrowly drafted to prohibit only the sale or distribution of obscene visual depictions of animal cruelty, according to a House Judiciary Committee report.

"These videos have no redeeming value and clearly fall outside the realm of protected speech," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., another bill sponsor. "Not only are they viciously inhumane to the animals involved, but they also teach behavior that can lead to other violent crimes against animals and humans."

Gallegly took up the issue in California in 1999 during his tenure as district attorney. That's when he found there were obstacles trying to prosecute a man selling over the Internet a video depicting animal cruelty.

The Humane Society of the United States says it has evidence of the videos' resurgence after the 1999 federal law was struck down.