Coalition Asks U.S. Court For Judgment in Challenge to Idaho Ag-Gag

by

GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
In April 2011, Boise Weekly visited a Jerome livestock auction as part of our award-winning investigation into Idaho dairies, where we discovered high levels of drugs found in cattle linked to Idaho dairies (BW, News, "Got Milk? Got Drugs? Got Both?" April 6, 2011).

But auction officials weren't too pleased with our presence—going so far as to manhandle our photographer and call us "terrorists." But if a 2014 measure pushed through the Idaho Legislature this year and signed into law by Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter had been in effect at the time, we would have faced up to a year behind bars and fines of up to $5,000.

And on Tuesday, a coalition, including the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho (ACLU), and Center for Food Safety (CFS), filed a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Idaho’s “ag gag” statute.

The motion argues that the statute "violates their right to free speech and other rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. As a matter of law, this statute cannot withstand legal scrutiny."

"Under this law, journalists, workers, activists, and members of the public can be convicted for videotaping animal cruelty or life-threatening safety violations," said a statement from the coalition. In July, the court allowed the lawsuit to proceed and denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.