In a strong embrace of its traditional First Amendment doctrines, the Supreme Court on Tuesday found unconstitutional a federal law that criminalized the sale or possession of certain depictions of animal cruelty.

Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., writing for an 8-1 majority, said the law was “substantially overbroad” because it could criminalize, for example, hunting videos in the District of Columbia where hunting is illegal. The Court also agreed that unlike categories such as obscenity, fraud and defamation, there is no long history of viewing depictions of animal cruelty as outside the protection of the First Amendment.

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