Coalition Responds to Idaho’s Motion to Dimiss Ag Gag Lawsuit

Posted on May 5, 2014

AFL-CIO, Public Interest Groups Weigh In Against State Law Targeting Factory Farm Whistle-Blowers

For immediate release:

Megan Backus, ALDF
David Perle, PETA
Leo Morales, ACLU of Idaho
Abigail Seiler, Center for Food Safety
Travis Bruner, Western Watersheds Project

cow-cc-peter-riou-article-image-500pxBOISE — Last week, national nonprofits 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 response to the state of Idaho’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed earlier this spring in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. In March 2014, a coalition of organizations dedicated to civil liberties, animal protection, food safety, labor rights, and the environment, along with journalists, filed the federal lawsuit to overturn Idaho’s newly passed “ag gag” statute, which was signed into law by Idaho governor C.L. “Butch” Otter in February (Idaho Code sec. 18-7042). Since the lawsuit was filed, groups including the AFL-CIO, the Government Accountability Project, Food and Water Watch, and a coalition of journalist organizations led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, have submitted “friend of the court” legal briefs in support of the coalition’s lawsuit.

“With much of the conversation rightly focused on animal welfare, we want Idahoans and the court to also understand that this law has the potential to imperil workers, and infringes on workers’ rights to a safe workplace,” said Rian Van Leuven, President of the Idaho State AFL-CIO. “If a worker wanted to demonstrate that worker safety was being jeopardized by unsafe conditions—such as an unventilated manure pit, broken equipment, or an electrocution hazard—and they took a photo of such conditions, they’d be subject to criminal penalties. That runs against everything we stand for.”

Idaho’s statute criminalizes whistle-blowing investigations at factory farms, and specifically targets animal advocates who expose illegal practices. If convicted under the ag gag law, a whistle-blower would face up to a year in prison and a $5,000 fine. In contrast, the maximum jail term for a first-offense conviction of animal cruelty in Idaho is six months.

In mid-April, the Idaho Dairymen’s Association asked the district court to allow the industry group to intervene in the lawsuit as a defendant. The dairy association played a pivotal part in drafting the ag gag law, illustrating the collusion between industry and government to shield factory farms. The public interest coalition will oppose the involvement of the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, because its intervention will waste court time and resources.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are ALDF, PETA, ACLU, CFS, Farm Sanctuary, Farm Forward, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment (ICARE), Idaho Hispanic Caucus Institute for Research and Education (IHCIRE), River’s Wish Sanctuary, Sandpoint Vegetarians, Western Watersheds Project, journalist Will Potter, undercover investigations consultant Daniel Hauff, investigator Monte Hickman, Professor James McWilliams, investigative journalist Blair Koch, and the political journal CounterPunch.

The complaint and list of the organizations submitting amicus briefs are available upon request.


11 thoughts on “Coalition Responds to Idaho’s Motion to Dimiss Ag Gag Lawsuit

  1. Dianna Dalton says:

    There is no form of abuse to any animal that someone should not be held accountable for. Every living creature should have the right to be treated fairly and with respect for their well being

  2. Ray McDonald says:

    I am with you 100%. Go get em!

  3. Diana says:

    Its just not right! Animals should live freely and without worry from humans being cruel. It’s just not right!

  4. Debra Griffet says:

    No one has the right to abuse defenceless animals. Are we a society that looks the other way when these things happen. Animals lived in this world way before humans. They deserve the respect of a living being. People who work in these horrendously uncaring places who see fit to expose these monsters for what they are doing should be able to practice their free speech that is stated in our constitution or is that now just a piece of paper that at is meaningless.

  5. Rosemarie says:

    Please support this cause. It is the right thing to do!

  6. Lucy Andersen says:

    It is in the public interest to know what goes on in agriculture processing if we humans consume it. We have a right to know what goes into our mouths and how it is fed, treated and manufactured. And furthermore we humans as a superior race need to be wise and kind stewards over Gods creations. We will have to answer to an Almighty God one day on what we did with that stewardship. Let us be kind to those who do not have a voice for their own suffering. How we treat animals is a reflection on how we will treat each other. It is important that we are able to end the suffering of animals and if needful to use them for food, do so in a humane way

  7. justan says:

    Is there a reason why the Humane Society of the United States especially Idaho chapter is not on the list of plaintiffs? Can’t immagine a conflict of interests.

  8. Michael Charren says:

    People who don’t have the decency to treat animals fairly and kindly don’t deserve rights where animals are concerned. The cruelty needs to stop and those who act with cruelty need to be stopped!

  9. corrina faulkner says:

    If people should silenced for speaking up for mistreatment of animals it is giving society the message that it is right to do wrong. Why should anyone not be held accountable for mistreating animals? They have no voice of their own.

  10. Duane Larson J.D. says:

    Our generation is the first generation to intentionally torture farm animals. There are alternatives for any purpose that this torture is said to serve. There is significant reason that we should all want this to be stopped. “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi. We as a nation must stop this. Cell phones equipped with cameras provide a method to stop this through public awareness. This has worked in the past when a missionary published photos of the mutilation of children of rubber plantation workers in the Congo during the early 20th century. Public awareness ultimately stopped that practice (mutilation of children was done to increase rubber production by the children’s parents). Google: “Kodak on the Congo – The Childhood of Human Rights”. Farm animal torture is a production issue, as was the Congo rubber plantations case. Torture and mutilation of any creature for any reason presents a manifestation of a fundamental illness of the psyche and character.
    Exposure of animal torture through photographs will work to stop this horror currently being perpetrated by our generation. Compare King Leopold’s Soliloquy, by Mark Twain (1970 [1906]) which emphasizes that it was the Kodak camera that caused reform in the Congo. Duane Larson, J.D. Member Mercy for Animals, and PETA.

  11. annette bailey says:

    no animal should have to suffer abuse and any factory farm doing so, should be shut down cold.
    People have the right to know whats going on
    with facory farm animals.

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