A U.S. District Court has ruled (for the first time ever) that a state Ag-Gag law is unconstitutional! The case, filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, is a huge step in preventing notoriously harmful Ag-Gag legislation in Maryland and across the country. The court found an Idaho Ag-Gag law violated the 1st and 14th Amendments and was motivated by unconstitutional animus against animal advocates.
Under Ag-Gag laws, journalists and members of the public are at risk for documenting animal cruelty or life-threatening safety violations. In holding the Ag-Gag law unconstitutional, the Court found:
- “ALDF has come forward with abundant evidence that the law was enacted with the discriminatory purpose of silencing animal rights activists who conduct undercover investigations in the agricultural industry.”
- “The effect of the statute will be to suppress speech…concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities on the environment.”
- “[A] purpose to discriminate and silence animal welfare groups in an effort to protect a powerful industry cannot justify the passage of [the law].”
- “A state cannot pick and choose what type of speech or expressive conduct it will allow based on content.”
- “Protecting the private interests of a powerful industry, which produces the public’s food supply, against public scrutiny is not a legitimate government interest.”