Animal Groups in Court to Oppose Utah’s Motion to Dismiss Ag Gag Lawsuit

Posted on August 6, 2014

Groups Challenge Constitutionality of State Law Targeting Factory Farm Whistle-Blowers

For immediate release:

Megan Backus, ALDF
David Pearle, PETA

SALT LAKE CITY — Tomorrow, attorneys for the national nonprofits Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) will appear in court to fight Utah’s motion to dismiss the groups’ lawsuit, which challenges the constitutionality of Utah’s controversial ag gag law.

When: Thursday, August 7, 2:30pm
Where: U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.
Courtroom 7.300 (Judge Robert J. Shelby), 351 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

The lawsuit is the first case ever filed to challenge the constitutionality of ag gag laws, which criminalize undercover investigations that expose the cruel treatment of animals and unsafe practices at factory farms and slaughterhouses. The plaintiffs argue that the ag gag law violates the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and is preempted by federal law. The groups filed the federal lawsuit to overturn the statute, which criminalizes whistle-blowing investigations at factory farms and specifically targets animal advocates who expose illegal practices.

Since the lawsuit was filed, the lawsuit has received widespread support from constitutional law experts and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. The Center for Food Safety and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (joined by sixteen other press organizations including The Salt Lake Tribune, the National Press Photographers Association, and NPR) have filed “friend of the court” briefs in support of the groups’ historic lawsuit. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are ALDF, PETA, the political journal CounterPunch, journalist Will Potter, Professor James McWilliams, undercover investigations consultant Daniel Hauff, blogger Jesse Fruhwirth, and Amy Meyer, the only person in the country to be prosecuted for violating an ag gag law after she filmed a live cow being dragged by a tractor at a slaughterhouse—footage she took from a public road in Draper, Utah. The charges were eventually dropped.

“PETA has repeatedly worked with whistleblowers and law enforcement officials to root out illegal cruelty to animals on factory farms and in slaughterhouses across the country,” says PETA Foundation General Counsel Jeffrey Kerr. “We need stronger laws on the books to punish people who abuse animals, not ag gag laws that keep the abuse out of the public’s eye and punish the people who expose it.”

“The First Amendment is essential to empowering advocates and whistle-blowers to expose the cruel treatment of animals at agricultural production facilities,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Utah’s ag gag law violates the constitution by criminalizing this speech in order to shield animal abusers from public criticism.”

Attorneys from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law and the Utah Legal Clinic are providing pro bono legal assistance on the case.  For more information, please visit and

The Plaintiffs’ response to the state’s motion to dismiss, the original complaint, and amicus briefs are available upon request.


57 thoughts on “Animal Groups in Court to Oppose Utah’s Motion to Dismiss Ag Gag Lawsuit

  1. Donna Lisogorski says:

    Please stop the killings of these angels now!

  2. pam says:

    Stop pig abuse!

  3. Mary Sims says:

    AgGag laws are meant to hide the horrific conditions, abuse and torture animals are forced to endure before they are killed — very often, inhumanely. If there is nothing to hide, there would not be such support for AgGag secrecy.

  4. Sherri Scott says:

    OMG! The suffering of animals because of greed has gotten so far out of hand and now they want to make it illegal to take it out of their dirty closets??? SHAME ON ALL OF THEM!

  5. Pauline says:

    The public has the right to know what is going on behind the “products” they purchase to make the decisions that suit their beliefs. Very few people in the world could ever believe that abusing animals in any way and for any reason is okay. It should (and eventually will) be outlawed. Let’s not waste more time. And let the brave people who fight cruelty be recognized as great members of our society fighting to better it. They’re not the bad guys. They’re the right guys, and the future.

  6. June Trieb says:

    We have discontinued buying pork products in our home, until we know for certain that pigs raised for consumption are treated humanely. There should be not any secrecy, so that the public can be assured that the torture has stopped.

  7. Lynne says:

    Felony Animal Abuse in all 50 states! Let’s go after the abusers on corporate farms, not protect the abusers!!!

  8. Ellie says:

    What are they trying to hide??? We all know the answer. They are horrible people and deserve to be exposed for what they do.

  9. patty battaglio says:

    Psychopaths should be prosecuted for their insane, perverted treatment of these innocent animals!!

  10. Arrhya says:

    I was a farm worker and the treatment was horrific. Stop the cruelty.

  11. celine dussault says:

    Supporting AgGag laws is being an abuser.

  12. sophio says:

    agGag law supports anymal torture.

  13. Nat Wenger says:

    Only a coward would support ag-gag laws.

  14. Robin wilshaw says:

    First you give the country to corperations and corperations take away your freedom. When living things are involved it is not only a right but a responsibility to have the public aware of what they are purchasing. The United States of America should be a leader, set an example nothing good hides in the dark. I would not at all be surprised if they labeled consumers terrorists so they could keep us in the dark. The world is watching set a example of how great and fearless the United States is when defending individuals rights. Come on America you used to be one of the greatest countries in the world.

  15. Wendy Barner says:

    Stop farm animal abuse…these are co inhabitants of our planet. Get your business practices ahead of the humanitarian wave and it will succeed

  16. Rochelle Willis says:

    Atrocities towards animals must be brought out in the open and punished. The human race has got to finally realize that we are not the only species who suffer!

  17. Rhonda Allen says:

    This makes me sick!!! Abusing innocent animals is wrong!!! What kind of society does that make us?

  18. Leonor Pek says:

    Stop the cruelty Don’t hide the abuse.

  19. Any humane being who allows such cruelty should endure the same pain and terror they allow to be inflicked on animals who cannot protect themselves.

  20. all animal cruelty should be dealt with severely imprisonment and fines large ones and a ban on keeping any animal forever patricia oslear

  21. Carol says:

    What can I do to help? It pains me to know and see what is happening to these poor animals.

  22. Cindy Brown says:

    Ag gag laws only allow cruelty towards farm animals to continue. Animals cannot speak for themselves, God bless the people that are fighting for animal rights to humane treatment and good living conditions.

  23. fine and a lifetime ban for ill treatment of any animal

  24. Deborah Moore says:

    What we allow, to happen to these animals is totally wrong, and everybody knows that. It’s bad enough that the animal has to sacrifice its life for our consumption, but to brutally torture a defenceless animal prior to there death is too sadistic, and all cases should be seriously investigated, most murderers have sick encounters with animals in their past…

  25. Freedom of Information is a Cival Right and a Human Right. If America is supposedvto be a democract..let us then have right to information and erhical concerns.

  26. rashel says:

    Stop animal cruelty

  27. doreen Caswell says:

    We definitely need to stop the horrific abuse of all animals ! I am not saying everyone shou lod be a vegan , I am saying there is no excuse for the way these animals are treated .

  28. Hils Brem says:

    I support the notion that there needs to be stronger laws against animal cruelty. You are lucky to have the first amendment, protect it with anyone you know who loves your country and what your govt worked hard for. The Australian govt is trying to copy your govt with the ag gag law only we don’t have that first amendment.
    Justice and compassion for any living creature should always come before greed, profit and bribery.
    May the might of truth and justice prevail! Freedom of press. 24/7 ICT motitoring cameras should be placed in every abotoir with frequent unannounced independent site checks by animal protection. Something like workcare safety checks.

  29. Donna Chappell says:

    AG GAG Laws do Nothing but PROTECT ANIMAL ABUSERS. Disturbing that they would even consider…..a law for the PROTECTION OF ABUSERS!!!!

  30. Monique Holzer says:

    In today’s world, nothing deserves to suffer or be treated so inhumanely! All living should be treated with respect and please let’s stop killing so inhumanely and stop causing pain and suffering to the innocent!!!
    I support ADLF and anyone who reports this immoral & inhumane behavior..
    Nothing needs to suffer or be tortured in this day and age!!!

  31. Lynda Hackleton says:

    Please stop the abuse of all animals there is no need for it

  32. christine lawson says:

    It looks like we are regressing as a species. In today’s “modern” world, ag gag laws SHOULD not exist. The fact that they DO, say something about the human race. Pathetic.

  33. JUDITH CLAYTON says:

    We have a right to know what they are doing! If they don’t KNOW it’s wrong, what are they worried about?

  34. MaryLu Krueger says:

    Every living animal feels pain, knows hurt and what love is. There is no need to hide the cruelty that we already know exists. Exactly what is it you are trying to keep hidden? Lets leave the animals alone and instead of putting all the money into the court system for a gag order, let’s find healthier plant based alternatives to eat. The farmers will still be making money only the product will change.

  35. Lena Lubrano says:

    Bless you PETA and ADLF for speaking up and fighting for those who cannot. Ag gag laws only allow cruelty towards farm animals to continue. No animal deserves to be treated so inhumanely. Pigs are the fourth intelligent mammal and it is despicable how they are treated! Thank you for fighting for animal rights and humane treatment and appropriate living conditions.

  36. Amanda Elmansy says:

    Hey, I know that some people have been eating pigs since who knows when but there is a right way and a wrong way and cruelty is NOT the right way! I don’t believe in eating pigs…but if you are going to do it do you have to be a low life about the way you kill it?

  37. Vanessa Kennedy-Glass says:

    If we are not allowed to investigate and prove that abuse is really happening then it will continue to happen forever. These animals deserve to be treated humanely. Please give them a chanceto be looked after by people who have their interests at heart.

  38. Ellen Gaston says:

    If you care nothing about animals, food or worker safety, you should at least care about the erosion of your Constitutional rights. I hope and pray this lawsuit smacks this corrupt ag-gag filth down. Thank you plaintiffs for doing this. Now go kick their asses.

  39. Lori says:

    THIS NEEDS TO STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  40. mary bromley says:

    too much cruelty to animals all over the world. persecute the evil people.

  41. Eve Bonnick says:

    Our government and law makers are responsible for all kinds of destruction of the environment and wildlife of every type. We are paying their salaries sad to say so they can destroy our precious animals by making the laws protecting the farmers and abusers, our society is full of all king of illnesses and high medical bills, outta of this pharmaceutical is a billion dollar business, its a trend all men in power are helping each other to force these kind of laws so the reacher can get reach and I’m sure they all get paid to complete evil work. Let animals live their lives and they deserve to be on this earth just like us, they have same heart beat, same blood color, they care n protect each other and smart , feel fear just like us. Please change this evil work and stop abusing, slathering and tearing down our precious kind loving animals, stop this cruelty and promote healthy life styles and better choices for us, no one dies from being vegan. Plant veggie and fruit farms and close these bloody doors of hell.

  42. ravi kumar gupta says:

    Its really sad to see theae innocent animals suffer so much that does not deserve the pain at all.can we tolerate the pain even 10 percent of what they are tolerating ..think about it.

  43. Laura Pitagna says:

    So, so sick to my stomach every time I see how animals of ALL kind are treated by hmmmm “HUMANS”. Do these people have a “soul”?? If so they are certain to “burn in hell” when their time is up. Thank you ALDF!!!!

  44. rebecca koo says:

    unbelievable – if you are such a freak about God you should also be trying to root out cruelty; how is turning a blind eye doing His work? oh i’m sorry that’s what you did about slavery and racism

  45. Beyrand véronique says:

    I am vegan from Few months, and I feel so Well in my body and in my mind too (slim again ! ;))…. I am ONE what I think, what I say, what I eat, I try to have a cohérent way of Life.
    My fitgh, my engagement is to be VEGAN. Go VEGAN tanks to that way of Life you Will acte couregeously every day with efficacity…. We have to stop to be the agro-business industrie and lobbies HAPPY PUPPETs !!

  46. A law that keeps criminals safe…pos law makers and farmers

  47. kimberly says:

    Animals should be treated kindly and have room to roam and be healthy. Keeping them locked up like this is cruel and inhumane. Shame on you Utah for trying to HIDE the cruelty of animals. We may eat them but they should be treated with respect. How dare you want to hide companies that do this.

  48. Sarah tonge says:

    I’m disgusted that we are still treating animals in this manner. If we must eat meat their short life should be at the very least humane
    Please stop this cruely
    Sarah tonge

  49. Vincent Pardue says:

    AgGag laws protect industry animal abusers and punish citizens who want to hold these sick people and their greedy bosses legally accountable for their barbarity and evil deeds. Why the HELL would you choose to protect animal abusers?? Ag-Gag laws are crap. Ditch these bullshit laws NOW!

  50. Joy James says:

    The abuse and mistreatment of animals should be prosecuted not the people trying to stop this immoral behavior. Utah claims to be a “Christian” state, but you precepts of your faith. Ag Gag laws should be found unconstitutional! It is wrong to hide criminal and immoral behaviors for your benefit and profit.

  51. Sylvi gruenberg says:

    This country is suppose to protect animals
    To me this is call: ANIMAL CRUELTY
    No words!

  52. Victoria Murray says:

    Stop focusing on the under cover whistle blowers. Animal cruelty has got to stop world wide. Focus on what matters.

  53. Brenda says:

    Voices for those who don’t speak our language, under a sain compassionate moral country ,should be ENCOURAGED to speak out and expose such cruelties to law enforcement and NOT DISCOURAGED. They are standing up for what’s MORALLY RIGHT and HUMANE! HOW CAN GOD BLESS AMERICA IF AMERICA CAN’T BE BLESSED WITH COMPASSION TOWARDS ALL OF GODS LIVING CREATURES??

  54. Stopn abusing the pigs, stop, stop, stop!!!!! Abusers are bastards!

  55. Stop, stop, stop, stop abusing the innocent pigs!!!

  56. Jeaneen says:

    Please, stop treating these living beings as if they were non feeling objects, they are living beings with feelings and they suffer just as we do. U am so grateful to Peta that i am vegan.

  57. Mellinger Severine says:

    STOP ABUSING PIGS! THEY SUFFER LIKE HUMAN! Ob Deutschland oder Amerika oder sonst wo. Massentierhaltung muss aufhören! Es kann nicht so weiter gehen. NO SUPPORT FOR CRUALITY!! NO! NO! NO! NO!

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