Breaking News! Federal Appeals Court Strikes Down Provisions Of Idaho’s Ag-Gag Law In A Victory for Animals

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit became the first federal appellate court to strike down provisions of an Ag-Gag law, holding that Idaho’s ban on recording conditions at factory farms and slaughterhouses violates the First Amendment.

Yesterday’s landmark decision stated that Idaho’s law was “staggeringly overbroad and that the purpose of the statute [was], in large part, targeted at speech and investigative journalists.”

The court concluded that Idaho was “singling out for suppression one mode of speech, audio and video recordings of agricultural operations, to keep controversy and suspect practices out of the public eye.”

In addition to striking down the recording ban, the court also upheld other provisions in the law only after construing them narrowly.

The Idaho legislature enacted its Ag-Gag law after an undercover investigation by Mercy for Animals revealed rampant cruelty at an Idaho dairy farm. Drafted by the Idaho Dairyman’s Association, the law would have criminalized investigative public interest journalism.

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision sends a strong message to Idaho and other states with Ag-Gag laws that they cannot trample civil liberties for the benefit of an industry,” said Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is the nation’s preeminent legal advocacy organization for animals and successfully led a coalition to strike down Utah’s Ag-Gag law in 2017 and has litigation pending against Ag-Gag laws in Iowa and North Carolina.

The coalition in the Idaho case includes the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Idaho, Center for Food Safety (co-counsel), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Public Justice, Farm Sanctuary, River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary, Western Watersheds Project, Sandpoint Vegetarians, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment (ICARE), the political journal CounterPunch, Farm Forward, journalist Will Potter, Professor James McWilliams, investigator Monte Hickman, investigative journalist Blair Koch, and undercover investigations consultant Daniel Hauff.

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