Court Rules in Favor of Public Interest Coalition, Denies Idaho’s Motion to Dismiss Ag Gag Lawsuit

Posted on September 4, 2014

Case Moves Forward to Challenge State Law That Silences 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
Catherine Behan, Public Justice

cows-cc-jelle-s-squareBOISE – Today, a federal district court allowed an “ag gag” lawsuit to proceed against the state of Idaho in the constitutional challenge brought by a coalition of national nonprofits, including the 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). The broad-based public interest coalition challenges Idaho’s controversial ag gag law, which criminalizes free-speech protected by the U.S. Constitution. Idaho governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed the law, Idaho Code sec. 18-7042, into effect in February, 2014. Today’s ruling allows the lawsuit to move forward by refusing to grant the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit outright. The lawsuit was filed in March in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.

The coalition argues that Idaho’s ag gag law violates the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and is preempted by federal laws that protect whistle-blowers. Made up of organizations dedicated to civil liberties, animal protection, food safety, labor rights, and the environment, along with journalists, the coalition filed the federal lawsuit to overturn Idaho’s ag gag statute, which criminalizes whistle-blowing investigations at factory farms, and specifically targets animal advocates who expose illegal practices.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are ALDF, PETA, ACLU, CFS, Farm Sanctuary, River’s Wish Animal Sanctuary, Western Watersheds Project, Sandpoint Vegetarians, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment (ICARE), Idaho Hispanic Caucus Institute for Research and Education (IHCIRE), the political journal CounterPunch, Farm Forward,  journalist Will Potter, Professor James McWilliams, investigator Monte Hickman, investigative journalist Blair Koch, and undercover investigations consultant Daniel Hauff. The plaintiffs are represented by in-house counsel, Public Justice, and the law firm of Maria E. Andrade. The case will now move forward to the discovery phase of legal proceedings.

The coalition’s response to the state’s motion to dismiss, the original complaint, and list of the organizations submitting amicus briefs are available upon request.


16 thoughts on “Court Rules in Favor of Public Interest Coalition, Denies Idaho’s Motion to Dismiss Ag Gag Lawsuit

  1. Nancy Guy says:

    There’s this little thing called freedom of speech . . .

  2. Giuliana Rinaldo says:

    Way to go ALDF, PETA, ACLU, CFS, FARM SANCTUARY& all the coalition of supporters against the wrongful Idaho ag gag law.

    I have been petitioning, praying that you all win the lawsuit. So congratulations for all that each one of you do everyday for animals and for this winning success for animal welfare and civil rights for all living beings. This is a big victory!

  3. Johanna says:

    Fabulous news! On to the next victory.

  4. carrie mccoy clapsaddle says:

    Freedom of speech and the protection of animals should be legal and prosecution of abuses by people

  5. Jamie Knee says:

    Keep up the good fight! Someone has to stop these people!

  6. michelle kirkup says:

    Inhumane,torture, beating & cruel abuse of all animals that have no choice in their life ending for human consumption has got to STOP. Charges have got to be brought for anyone committing this CRIME on ANIMALS that have no voice.The world has got to get behind Animal Welfare…. It starts with the courts compassion and upholding Laws regarding Animal Welfare.

    1. Nancy Poznak says:

      Yes. Factory farming is literally a holocaust of horrors for every moment of the animals’ lives, and then the worst is seen during slaughter. We need to stop using animal products. The least needed is to reduce the use by perhaps 90%, otherwise factory farming will never end. The US also exports beef and other animals products, so stopping these practices in the US is only the beginning.

  7. EYG says:

    This is great. I am on pin and needles over this casem These ag-gag laws are evil. If the Supreme Court allows these laws to stand, it should scare the pants off of every American. Go show the courts how dirty and evil BigAg is and kick their transparently disingenuous asses!!!!!

  8. Anita Walsh says:

    I am so grateful to all the dedicated activists who pull together for the animals, for the rights of citizens, and for fairness in defense of truth, so we can move forward.

  9. Kim S says:

    Let’s go get them…Idaho governor is obviously “supported” (and owned) by BigAg and cares nothing about animal welfare…Keep up the great work on behalf of all animals….

  10. Bernice says:

    Great news, but we shouldn’t have to fight like this for something that’s so obvious. When you try to fight the public’s right to see what you do then it’s too obvious that you’re doing something wrong. There should be NO question about our right to know.

  11. Virginia says:

    Having been caught in the act; this was pushed through as an “emergency law” to become law on the day the Gov signed it ! Nothing to hide, yeah right. Too bad this will not affect the fact that ID does not have a valid felony for cruelty to animals. Its a fake: no one will ever be cited under the current law. So thankful this is going forward!

  12. spencer taylor says:

    GREED KILLS,,,,and it seems as if these scum don’t get convicted…we just let them abuse animals over and over and it is wrong!! Please stop the AG GAG bill, ..animals need to be protected. We need to be their voice. Their little babies don’t need to be taken away, poor crying mothers…Pigs are so kind and loving.. all farm animals!! Please help.

  13. Polly Livanidis says:

    If there is nothing to hide, why would you not be in favour of making sure these poor animals are not mistreated before their untimely death. To die is bad enough, but to be tortured first is abominable.

  14. Sandra Dias says:

    Stop all the killing of all innocent animals!! GREED!!!

  15. Sandra Cooper says:

    Animal welfare should be important to all of us. Its bad enough we eat animals, we owe them a clean decent life. Have we lost our hearts and decency ? it is just as easy to b kind as it is to be a brut. We need people to report wrong doings about all living things so it can be corrected.

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