Advocates Stand Up for Animals in Landmark “Ag Gag” Lawsuit

Posted on December 10, 2013

Animal Groups Respond to State Attempt to Silence Factory Farm Whistle-Blowers

For immediate release:


Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund
David Perle, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

cows-in-feedlot-CC-NDSU-Ag-Communication-article-image-500pxSALT LAKE CITY — Today, national nonprofits Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) filed a response to the state of Utah’s motion to dismiss the landmark “ag gag” lawsuit filed earlier this summer in the U.S. District Court of Utah. The first-of-its-kind lawsuit challenges Utah’s law, which violates rights protected by the U.S. Constitution by gagging free speech in criminalizing the collection of evidence of animal abuse at factory farms. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of ALDF, PETA, the political journal CounterPunch, journalists Will Potter and Jesse Fruhwirth, undercover investigator Daniel Hauff, Professor James McWilliams, and Amy Meyer—a Utah animal advocate and the first person in the nation prosecuted under an ag gag law. The Center for Food Safety and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press will file “friend of the court” briefs in support of the groups’ historic lawsuit.

In October, Utah filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming the plaintiffs lack legal standing and failed to adequately allege a violation of the Constitution. In the opposition filed today, the plaintiffs defend their right to bring the case, pointing out the very real threat of prosecution that chills their ability to expose the horrors of factory farming, as well as the injuries suffered by journalists and academics who report on these exposés. The opposition also explains why the vitriolic rhetoric used by Utah legislators against animal advocates in passing the ag gag law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, and why federal laws designed to promote whistle-blowing should preempt state attempts to silence whistle-blowers.

Since the August 2013 filing of the lawsuit, ALDF’s petition to repeal Utah’s ag gag law has received more than 35,000 signatures on and the lawsuit has received widespread support from constitutional law experts and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

“This is a blatant assault upon the rights of citizens to free speech and public information,” said Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “But it is also a way of intimidating people from coming forward about egregious animal cruelty. For the sake of animals, public safety, and our constitutional rights, this law must be struck down.”

“The ag-gag law is a travesty in a free society, designed to cover up systematic animal abuse, said Jeffrey Kerr, General Counsel to PETA. “The Utah legislature should require cameras in slaughterhouses and on factory farms to show piglets being castrated without anesthetic, chickens having their throats cut while still fully conscious, and still-feeling cows having their legs cut off all so they can end up on dinner plates.”

Attorneys from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law and the Utah Legal Clinic and other First Amendment experts, including Colorado attorney Ed Ramey, are providing pro bono legal assistance on the case.

Copies of the complaint are available by request.

ALDF was founded in 1979 with the unique mission of protecting the lives and advancing the interests of animals through the legal system. For more information, please visit

PETA was founded in 1980 and focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. For more information, please visit

43 thoughts on “Advocates Stand Up for Animals in Landmark “Ag Gag” Lawsuit

  1. Tracie says:

    Then you need to help this woman here is her petition on change.

  2. Marco Wyssmann says:

    There is always talk about “humane” treatment of our fellow animals, it is time you start acting as humans and leave the monstrous behavior behind!

  3. Debbie Richardson says:

    Humans should not treat animals this way its disturbing and disgusting…

  4. Gary Sherman says:

    Animals MUST have a voice!

  5. kathryn gunderson says:

    Shame on anyone who would not fight ag gag. Darkness and evil must be brought to the we light. We must do for these poor souls anything we can.

  6. Mariah Dancing says:

    Do not support systemic animal cruelty and abuse by turning a blind eye. As humans we must always strive to be as humane as possible, or what is the definition of the word at all?

  7. patty penke says:

    Please lets all care about what God blest us with.
    Treat our beast of burden with respect.

  8. rosemary gossage says:

    They need our voice please!

  9. rosemary gossage says:

    They need our voice please.

  10. Julie Attard says:

    Someone has to speak out for the animals . Cameras in these places keeps it humane for the animals and the workers doing the wright thing !!!!

  11. The way people treat animals is usually how they treat people. Scary isn’t it?

  12. Samantha Todorovic says:

    Please do the right thing. Treat all animals ethically and with compassion. Abuse of any living creature should be punishable under the law.

  13. Joanne says:

    If you hurt animals you should be put in jail..and if you are guilty of covering up putting animals in harms way…you should spend more time in jail…cause you are a coward too

  14. Mary says:

    Do the right thing and don’t support evil torture of animals….

  15. Sherry says:

    The abuse that is going on in these places is HORRIFIC and unnecessary. These workers are doing unthinkable things to these animals because they cannot strike out for themselves. Any animal, food animal or otherwise should be offered HUMANE treatment. Covering that up is just another crime. It is time to GET THIS done not just work on it.

  16. Michelle says:

    Please don’t let this happen. How can people torture these animals? If you are doing wrong it needs to be said!

  17. Mamie Holst says:

    trying to hide animal abuse is just as evil as abusing animals!!!!!!!! sick.

  18. Maureen Hovestadt says:

    We can treat thse poor animals much better than we do. There is no reason even though they are killed. Meat too much meat is not healthy. How many recalls have you read about?

  19. Alex French says:

    This abuse is horrific and should not be tolerated! Those that commit cruelty to animals in everyday life face criminal penalties, tens of thousands of dollars in fines and prison sentences. Employees at these horror houses called farms should face at least that plus termination, their names on Naltional Animal Abuse Registry list and whatever else we can through at them. They are criminals and monsters!

  20. Frederick Weinstein says:

    Try putting the Human in Humanity.

    1. Daniel Hauff says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more, Frederick!

  21. Gay says:

    Violence begets violence, we can not have a peaceful world if we are murdering innocent beings. In order for humans to evolve we must stop harming other species and we must live in harmony. It is the only way. The cruelty must end.

  22. Dawn says:

    Animals are peaceful, loving beings, meat or not. They should be treated with dignity and respect, given the fact they are going to be butchered for food! I pray for the beutiful animals on this earth.

  23. Katie Ingham says:

    Sadistic, perverted human beings who torture and abuse farm animals must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Ag-gag laws and the intimidation of “whistle-blowers” by guilty factory farmers is unconstitutional and must be struck down!

  24. Doris says:

    Stand Up for Animals Rights!

  25. Lisa says:

    Don’t understand who gives anyone the right to treat these or any other animals the way they do. Animals are living creatures which need to be treated kindly and with care. We are all created by the man upstairs and no one has the right to do harm to animals or humans.

  26. Toby Fisher says:

    Animals are people too . They must be protected. And loved.

  27. Klara Larsen says:

    I’m afraid of the people who treat animals so bad.They have no feelings. I wonder what they would do to us?
    I’m afraid of people, who have no feelings for animals or people. They are robots and don’t belong here.

  28. sharon pilon says:

    It’s about time MAN treated animals right ! After all it’s these very animals that made them rich ! These animals should be treated with respect and kindness and not treated like garbage ! After all they feel pain , fear and they bleed the same colour we do ! They give their all everyday so give them peace and quietly let them live their lives out in a pasture ! They served their time now free them alive ! You owe
    them that much !

  29. Heathe says:

    We need transparency in animal’s lives. We need the opposite of ag gag. We need constant vigilance.

    1. Zorya Dromont says:


  30. kate akar says:

    The slaughterhouses are already doing horrible things behind closed walls. Don’t give them another advantage; they have so many!

  31. Lisa says:

    Animals used to be honoured for giving up their lives for our food. They were not disrespected and dismissed. How arrogant and hateful of humans to feel they just have a right to take these lives. It’s especially heinous to breed with the intent to kill for food. Control! Control!

  32. Laura Johnson says:

    Animal abusers and exploiters MUST be stopped! They must be brought down! Making laws to try to conceal the truth will NOT BE TOLERATED! The factory farm industry CANNOT LIE TO US ANYMORE!

  33. Jon Clarke says:

    There is no place is civilised society for this kind of legislation. A ‘civilised’ society would treat all animals with respect and the legal system would vigorously defend their rights.
    Gagging is yet more proof that those with power and money can do as they like regardless of how immoral or illegal.

  34. Lisa Lungul says:

    Animals are conscious being as are human animals. It is a moral and ethical obligation for humans to treats animals as such and to ensure their safety as domesticated animals have a level of dependency of humans. To ensure this safety practices such as factory farms must be monitored.

  35. Ramona K. Nickell says:

    Abuse should not be tolerated.

  36. michele says:

    Please do what right, compassion for these animals. It is important to show we are decent. Animals know when they are doomed, Do we have to be cruel and in inhumane to our weaker species.? We as a nation need to honey freedom of speach so everyone does the right thing,

  37. Zorya Dromont says:

    People should have the choice of knowing what happens to the enslaved, viciously tortured, then brutally killed animals they have on their plates for the holidays!

  38. Marilyn Beidler says:

    Big Ag must have something to hide.

  39. angella faimanifo says:

    Its terrible, and unjust. Its bad enough we have to eat them, allow them peace while there here. Its just common sense. Compassion is the humane thing to have happen.

  40. Margaret Moore says:

    If 63% of taxpayer funded “farm subsidies” (in excess of $22 billion dollars per year of tax payer money) is spent on meat and dairy subsidies, then the taxpayers have a right to know how their food is being handled and processed!!! Put a camera in every stockyard, slaughterhouse and factory farm! Consumers and taxpayers have a right to know WTH is going on with their foods!!!

  41. Jen Mrotek says:

    All living beings deserve kindness, respect & compassion. There should be no other option.

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