“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Justice Alioto, the one dissenting judge, noted that the rejected law was never intended to suppress speech, but to prevent the creation and commercial exploitation of horrific acts of animal cruelty as a form of depraved entertainment. However, Justice Alioto is clearly in the minority. Conventional wisdom – backed up by dozens of court verdicts – has long held that the Constitution’s First Amendment protects not simply the political opinions printed in newspapers, but “free expression” in the broadest sense. Over the years, the First Amendment has been brought to the defense of everything from child pornography to bestiality. In the 1987 case Wilkinson v. Jones, the Court used the First Amendment to make it illegal for states to prohibit the broadcasting of nudity, sex acts and other indecent material.