U.S. House Votes to Prohibit Sale and Distribution of Crush Videos
On Wednesday, July 21, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 416-3 to pass H.R. 5566, the Prevention of Interstate Commerce in Animal Crush Videos Act of 2010. The nearly unanimous affirmative vote, as well as the fact that 262 representatives attached their names to the bill as cosponsors, makes this a decisive victory for animals—especially considering that the bill was introduced only one month ago.
Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA) introduced H.R. 5566 in response to the Supreme Court’s April ruling that the original Crush Act, a 1999 federal law banning the creation, sale and possession of materials depicting genuine acts of animal cruelty, is unconstitutional and overbroad in its scope. The Crush Act had succeeded in curbing commercial trade of “crush” fetish videos, which generally depict a woman’s feet as they crush to death small animals such as rodents and kittens. Now, in the absence of any enforceable federal law, this horrific underground industry is on the ascent.
H.R. 5566 amends the Crush Act to prohibit distributing, selling or offering to distribute or sell any depictions of animals being crushed, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or burned where such actions are illegal. Rep. Gallegly reportedly worked with law and constitutional scholars when drafting the bill to ensure that its language is narrowly tailored to be able to withstand strict First Amendment challenges.
Legislation of this kind must pass both chambers of Congress to become U.S. law—and so far, a companion bill to H.R. 5566 has not been introduced in the Senate. Congress will soon enjoy a month-long recess; upon its return in September, the ASPCA will encourage the Senate to take up the Crush Videos Act of 2010. The current federal legislative session (the 111th United States Congress) ends on January 3, 2011, so it is vital that the Senate act with the same speed and resolve demonstrated by the members of the House of Representatives.
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