Thanks to swift action by the U.S. Senate, Congress is very close to finalizing legislation to recriminalize the distribution and sale of “crush” fetish videos. Only one day after its introduction, last night the Senate passed its amendment to the House's anti-crush video legislation by unanimous consent. The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act now goes back to the House of Representatives—once it secures that body’s approval, it will go to President Obama.
In April, the United States Supreme Court struck down the original Crush Act, a federal law passed in 1999, finding its language to be overbroad and unconstitutional. The law was meant to stop the creation and sale of crush videos and other depictions of illegal acts of animal cruelty “in which a living animal is intentionally maimed, mutilated, tortured, wounded, or killed.” The Court’s ruling did leave the door open for the Act to be rewritten—a carefully-crafted statute limited to crush videos or other depictions of extreme animal cruelty potentially can withstand tests of constitutionality.
In response to the Supreme Court’s verdict, Representative Gallegly (R-CA) introduced H.R. 5566, a bill to amend the Crush Act that gives it a much narrower focus, but would still prohibit distributing, selling, or offering to distribute or sell any depictions of animals being crushed, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or burned where such actions are illegal. On July 21, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 416-3 and referred it to the Senate. However, the bill did not move forward until a Senate version was formally introduced.
On September 27, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced S. 3841 to amend H.R. 5566, the House’s anti-crush bill. The senators were able to fast-track the bill, bypassing the usual lengthy committee-review process and bringing it to a vote by the full Senate on September 28.
Since the Senate changed the language of the House bill, H.R. 5566 must now go back to the House of Representatives for a second vote. The ASPCA is asking the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security to act decisively and approve the bill so that it can go to the full House of Representatives for a vote before Congress recesses for the year.