Ron Paul
1999 Ron Paul Chapter 106

No Neeed for Federal Animal Cruelty Laws

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19 October 1999

Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. PAUL).

(Mr. PAUL asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

1999 Ron Paul 106:1
Mr. PAUL. I thank the gentleman from Virginia for yielding me the time. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill. If ever there were a bill unnecessary, this is one. It is an example of us here in the Congress looking for dragons to slay. This is absolutely unnecessary. There is no real purpose in passing this legislation. As has been said, all 50 States have laws against violence and cruelty to animals. That should be adequate. But the way this bill is written really opens up a Pandora’s box. It is a can of worms.

1999 Ron Paul 106:2
Take, for instance, it says, “whoever knowingly possesses a depiction of animal cruelty with the intention of placing that depiction in interstate commerce.” That, you can get 5 years for. How do you prove intention? This is subjective, purely subjective. This is not narrowly written, this is very broadly written. This is a first amendment concern to many, but it is also so unnecessary.

1999 Ron Paul 106:3
Chief Justice Rehnquist, along with Ed Meese, has stated recently, there is just no need for more Federal laws. We do not need more Federal laws. We cannot even enforce the ones that we have. And besides, this is strictly a State matter.

1999 Ron Paul 106:4
Now, if they want to use the interstate commerce clause, they should be reminded, up until this century at least, the interstate commerce clause was used in its original intent to open up trade between the States. It was never the excuse to regulate everything between the States. That is a 20th century distortion of the interstate commerce clause. So that is not even a real good excuse for this.

1999 Ron Paul 106:5
Now, cruelty to animals, nobody is going to come and defend cruelty to animals. But quite frankly there will be times it will be difficult to define. The motivation for most cruelty to animals is because people are sick. This is a mental illness. We are dealing with mental illness here and we are going to write a Federal law against it. So if somebody, and it was even mentioned by the proponents of this bill, that people like Ted Bundy delight in this. Yes. These people are psychopaths. They are nuts. It is an illness. We cannot pass a law to deal with mental illness. I strongly object to this approach. We should be thinking not only about the process but of the unintended consequences of passing legislation like this.

1999 Ron Paul 106:6
I have seen some pretty violent ads on television of killing cockroaches. I know that is not their intention. I went fishing one time and it was rather ghastly. I am not a very good fisherman nor a hunter. I cannot see the killing of animals. But to see the hook pulled up on a kingfish and have the fish thrown on the deck and the fish suffocate, we make movies of this. This is on television. They say this will not be affected. How do we know? There are hunting films on television. Animals are shot. Maybe people are delighting in looking at the cruelty or the killing of animals on television even though they are sporting or fishing shows.

1999 Ron Paul 106:7
Yes, I agree that is not what is intended, but so often our legislation gets carried away and is misinterpreted. I would ask my colleagues not to pass this legislation. This legislation does not have any redeeming value whatsoever. It is well-intended in the sense that people object to cruelty to animals but quite frankly I have not had one single request from my 595,000 constituents in my district for this bill, and I would like to see how many others who would honestly get up here and say, oh, I have had dozens or hundreds or thousands of people.

1999 Ron Paul 106:8
The only people that I have heard that have requested this piece of legislation are law enforcement officials, not the judges who have to deal with this, not the people in the country, not the State legislative bodies, not the governors, but people who may want to have a lot more activity to do things they are not doing well enough anyway. Federal law enforcement is lagging. So to put another law on the books which is not well written, and it is subjective in that we have to decide whether or not the person who possesses this material is intending to sell it to somebody.

1999 Ron Paul 106:9
This bill really is something that we need to just reject, vote down. We do not need it. The States will take care of this. We do not need to be bashful and say that if we do not vote for this bill for some reason that we endorse the idea of animal cruelty. That is not the case. Nobody endorses this. I just think that the qualifications in here to exempt certain people like journalistic and historical and artistic, these categories, quite frankly, who will be the judge? It will be very difficult to do.

1999 Ron Paul 106:1 I thank the gentleman from Virginia for yielding me the time. Here, Ron Paul thanks The Honorable Robert C. Scott.

1999 Ron Paul 106:2 first amendment probably should be capitalized: First Amendment.

1999 Ron Paul 106:4 the interstate commerce clause probably should be capitalized in both iterations: the Interstate Commerce Clause.

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