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It is widely believed that the U.S. Supreme Court delivers the final word on the meaning of the Constitution. Yet the Court is only one of many participants. Often it is not the primary or dominant one. A recent Supreme Court decision, U.S. v. Stevens, helps illustrate this point. On April 20, 2010, it held that a statute passed by Congress to criminalize the commercial creation, sale or possession of certain depictions of animal cruelty was substantially overbroad and therefore invalid under the First Amendment. The Court split, 8-1, with only Justice Samuel Alito Jr. dissenting. It might appear that, at least on this particular constitutional dispute, the Court would have the final word.

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