In a strong endorsement of classic First Amendment principles, the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down a federal law that made it a crime to create, sell or possess certain depictions of animal cruelty.

Calling the law a “criminal prohibition of alarming breadth,” Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said there was no basis for carving out such an ill-defined exception to the First Amendment. Roberts wrote for an 8-1 majority in the case, U.S. v. Stevens (pdf).

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