A federal judge has ruled that an Idaho state law banning activists from secretly filming animal abuse in agricultural facilities is unconstitutional, reported KTVB.
U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled on Monday that the state ag-gag laws violate the First Amendment, a long-time argument of animal rights advocates who have been targeted by such laws. A coalition of animal rights, civil rights, and media groups filed suit against the state of Idaho last year, arguing that the ag-gag laws restrict free speech and made reporting on animal abuse a larger crime than the abuse itself.
Such laws are prominent in large, agricultural states known for animal and dairy processing. The Idaho ag-gag law is the first of its kind to be struck down in court. Attorneys and animal advocates celebrated the ruling. “This ruling is so clear, so definitive, so sweeping,” said Leslie Brueckner, senior attorney for Public Justice. “We couldn’t ask for a better building block in terms of striking these laws down in other states.”
Utah, Montana, North Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri are the only other states in the country with ag-gag laws. The Idaho ruling sets forth a strong precedent that honors the First Amendment, forces agricultural transparency, and protects animal rights. Let’s hope it catches on.