A coalition of organizations and journalists filed a federal lawsuit in March in an effort to overturn Idaho's recently passed "Ag Gag" law. The law was signed by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter on February 28, 2014. "Ag Gag" laws seek to criminalize whistle-blowing on factory farms. The law passed in Idaho makes it a crime for anyone to film or record on an agricultural operation without permission. If convicted, they face up to one year in jail, which is double the maximum penalty for animal cruelty, or a $5000 fine.
Members of the coalition who filed the federal lawsuit include the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the law. The coalition is arguing that it violates freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Professor Erwin Chemerinksy, constitutional law expert and dean at the University of California, has weighed in on the Idaho law, stating "The Idaho law is deeply distressing because it is aimed entirely at protecting an industry, especially in its worst practices that endanger people, at the expense of freedom of speech. It even would criminalize a whistle-blower who took a picture or video of wrongdoing in the workplace. I am confident that this law will be struck down under Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedents."
"Ag Gag" laws prevent the exposure of animal cruelty, food safety issues, poor working conditions, and environmental issues at factory farms. They specifically target undercover animal advocates. Idaho is the seventh state to pass an "Ag Gag" law, and the first to do so since 2012.
To view the complaint filed by the coalition, click here
In New York, "Ag Gag" bills were introduced in 2011 and 2012, but both died during the legislative process. What are your thoughts on "Ag Gag" laws?