Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Federal judge rules that 2014 Idaho ag-gag law is unconstitutional

A federal judge on Monday ruled that Idaho’s ag-gag law violates the First Amendment, Kimberlee Krueski reports for The Associated Press. U.S. Judge Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill said "banning secret filming of animal abuse at agricultural facilities is unconstitutional, giving animal rights activists across the country hope that the decision will pave the way to overturn similar laws in other states. The ruling is the first in the country to deem an anti-dairy spying law unconstitutional, said Mathew Liebman of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the lead attorneys on the Idaho case."

Winmill wrote: “Audio and visual evidence is a uniquely persuasive means of conveying a message, and it can vindicate an undercover investigator or whistleblower who is otherwise disbelieved or ignored. Prohibiting undercover investigators or whistleblowers from recording an agricultural facility’s operations inevitably suppresses a key type of speech because it limits the information that might later be published or broadcast.”

Idaho's ag-gag law, passed in April 2014 "after the state’s $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos of cows being abused at a southern Idaho dairy filmed in 2012 unfairly hurt their business," states that a first offense of undercover filming of agricultural operations could result in six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, Krueski writes. A second conviction within 10 years of the first one could result in up to nine months in jail and a $7,000 fine. (Read more)

No comments: