Judge Keeps Challenge to 'Ag-Gag' Law Alive

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Demonstrators protest against the "ag-gag" bill in February. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Demonstrators protest against the "ag-gag" bill in February.

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill has preserved Animal Legal Defense Fund's First Amendment challenges to the so-called "ag-gag" law, allowing the contest over the heart of the law to move forward, Food Safety News reports

However, Winmill did dismiss other parts of ALDF's challenge. Arguments against a section of ag-gag that prohibit intentional damage or injury to agricultural facilities, livestock, personnel and equipment were tossed out. Nevertheless, in his ruling, issued Sept. 4, Winmill described First Amendment claims against the law as "ripe for review."

The ag-gag law drew considerable controversy as it was being considered by the Idaho Legislature earlier this year. It imposes steep fines and possible jail time for interference with agricultural operations across the state, including unauthorized documentation such as film and video of agricultural facilities and practices. The bill was introduced after the release of film footage documenting animal cruelty at an Idaho dairy.

Advocates for the bill said it was meant to protect agricultural interests, but its detractors described it as a solution waiting for a problem, and that it curtails free speech rights and discourages independent oversight of ag practices.