Saturday, June 13, 2009

Amicus Curiae Brief in United States v. Stevens

Below, you will find the link to an amicus curiae (“friend-of-the-court”) brief a colleague and I recently submitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in United States v. Stevens.

The Supreme Court agreed to review the Stevens case because a lower federal appeals court held unconstitutional the federal statute (18 U.S.C. Section 48) criminalizing the making, selling or possessing depictions of “crush videos” and other torture and killing of animals.

Our brief was in support of the government. It argues, in effect, that the statute is constitutional no matter which of our four arguments is accepted.

The basic issue presented to the Supreme Court by the Stevens case is whether the federal statute is constitutional.

For non-lawyers, and even for some unfamiliar with constitutional law and the task of the Supreme Court, portions of the brief may be difficult to understand.

I have two suggestions.

First, read the brief in this order: Summary of Argument (pages 2-3); Introduction (pages 3-7); Point III (pages 16-26); Point IV (pages 26-34); Conclusion (pages 34-36); Point I (pages 7-12); Point II (pages 12-16); Interest of Amicus Curiae (unnumbered page 1).

Second, ask a lawyer of your acquaintance to explain the more technical legal aspects.