Public Interest Coalition Asks Court for Judgment in Lawsuit Challenging Idaho’s Controversial “Ag Gag” Law

Posted on November 18, 2014

Coalition Presents Constitutional Challenge to Law That Silences Industry 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

cows-cc-jelle-s-squareBOISE – Today, a broad-based public interest 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), filed a motion for summary judgment in their lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Idaho’s “ag gag” statute. The coalition argues that they are entitled to judgment in their favor because the statute—Idaho Code sec. 18-7042—violates their right to free speech and other rights protected by the U.S. Constitution. As a matter of law, this statute cannot withstand legal scrutiny.

Idaho’s controversial ag gag statute makes it a crime to conduct an undercover investigation at an Idaho agricultural facility. Under this law, journalists, workers, activists, and members of the public can be convicted for videotaping animal cruelty or life-threatening safety violations. The coalition argues that this statute violates the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment by suppressing speech that criticizes industrial animal farms, and that the statute was motivated by unconstitutional animus against animal advocates, in violation of the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed the law into effect in February 2014. The lawsuit was filed in March in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. In July, the court allowed the lawsuit to proceed and denied the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

The coalition consists of organizations dedicated to civil liberties, animal protection, food safety, labor rights, and the environment, along with journalists. Plaintiffs include 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, Leslie Brueckner of Public Justice, Justin Marceau of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and the law firm of Maria E. Andrade.

The coalition’s motion for summary judgment is available upon request.

20 thoughts on “Public Interest Coalition Asks Court for Judgment in Lawsuit Challenging Idaho’s Controversial “Ag Gag” Law

  1. Gina Powell says:

    As an American Citizen, I want to know what exactly is going on with this law that is unconstitutional and against my rights. Americans need to know what is going on. I want to know what is going on behind the walls of factory farms that supple food to our children – our future. I demand a response.

  2. Stop “Ag gag” and have the horror monitored 24 hour video access to the facilty.Humane officers should be able to have open access..

  3. CL Broughton says:

    As a American citizen to know the law is being followed. Do your job to follow these laws in the Constitution and let American tax-paying citizens know the truth. This protects all citizens in ensuring good health and nutrition for your constitutes. This appears to show preference to bribery and not the Ethics Act you have signed and are required to follow. Please clarify in writing. Thank You

  4. San Billings says:

    I’m with Gina Powell. I want to know exactly what is going on in agricultural facilities in Idaho involving animal cruelty which would cause Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to make it a criminal activity to videotape, expose, and or investigate such activity. The whole world is profiting from the abuse of God’s creatures and it has got to be brought to light.

  5. joyce vitt says:

    this is an outrage!! how dare the state of Idaho to proceed with this unconstitusional anti gag law!! THIS BILL is insensitive,cruel,inhumane!!!!law is giving the green light to have a freeferal in the meat industry !!! these defenseless animals are being beaten,tortured,mutilted!!! basically violently murdered for meat!! don’t you think its bad enough that they are being killed for food at least have mercy for them and do it in the most humane,ethical way they can!! thee animals should not have to endure intense pain and suffering that they endure on a daily basis!!! these animals deserve to be treated ethically and humanely just because there for food doesn’t give you the right to abuse them or cause hem pain and suffering!!! with this ANTI GAG is repulsive,babaric,and seriously!!! CRUEL and INHUMANE !!! THE ANIMALS ARE LIVING<BREATHING CREATURES AS OURSELVES!!!! THEY FEEL AS WE DO!!! JUST PUT YOURSELF AS THE ANIMAL!!!HELD CAPTIVE AND MURDERED WITH NO PROTECTION!!! ANTI GAG= WRONG!!!!!

  6. sharon chang says:

    stop animal abuse by all means possible!

  7. Debbie Hiltner says:

    Humans are NOT the only animals that feel.

  8. Sara Rabbani says:

    Remove the “Ag Gag” at once. Why protect the guilty?! If they are ashamed and guilty of their actions they should not be doing it. We as citizens have the right to know.

  9. Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you ever been blogging for?
    you made running a blog glance easy. The whole glance of your site is magnificent, let alone the

  10. Margaret says:

    Thank heavens there are so many great people that work for the benefit of our fellow creatures on this planet! To keep from being really depressed, esp. around this time of year (holidays that too-often feature animal flesh on the table), we should always keep in mind the resolute commitments of many to protect these lives! Go vegan! Thank you, all !!

  11. Claudia Gibson says:

    i don’t buy anything factory farmed, we no longer do fast food & everyone had a healthier year. Same reason I buy non GMO cereal. We are 10, I want to know what’s in our food! Labeling is mandatory in EU countries! Like ‘new coke’- an epic fail & poisoning ppl & earth!

  12. Jody Mcnary says:

    Remove the “Ag Gag” today!! Seems to me they are hiding something.
    Hmmm could it be ABUSE!!!

  13. dawn Spencer says:

    Don’t those humans know right from wrong? Shame!

  14. Valentina Trpeski says:

    This world is disgraceful, pathetic & DISCUSTING. If you are a world that has grown in the past century. It is idiotic that factory meat farmers still do not know a more humaine way of killing your meat or anything they farm for death. This whole world has become corrupt & sadly is still in dark ages or Wild West time.

  15. DD says:

    Factory Farming is a Holocaust for animals. The animals are held captive in tiny cages their whole life. Chickens have their beaks cut off, Cows have their horns and tails cut off and pigs are castrated all without pain killers. These poor innocent creatures go mad. This has to STOP!! The public needs to know the truth about what really goes on in factory farms, so we can raise enough voice to make a change. I only buy from an organic farm that raises their animals humanely. I also have cut down on meat consumption. The “Ag-Gag” is unconstitutional.

  16. Beautiful Legal Action!!!I have been saying this all my life, that these issues of killing these animals is against my civil rights to have to suffer the trauma of seeing and knowing these things happen and know, my voice has credibility to stop it. Thank you so much!!

  17. I am opposed to the idea of suppressing information about abuses in factory farming.

  18. Ag-gag is not acceptable.

  19. Deneen Tokich says:

    Ag Gag laws are unconstitutional and disgusting. Literally ANYTHING to make a buck… even if it includes stripping us of our rights or horrific abuse and unspeakable cruelty. NO MORE! What have we become? God help us.

  20. Ellen McC says:

    Thank you for all you do for animals. All the groups that work for animal justice need to be applauded!!

Be a Partner in Protection!

Donate monthly to help animals.

or make a one-time gift »

ALDF's Online Store

Help fund our lifesaving work!


Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.

Join Us

Follow ALDF on these networks:

Stay Connected

Sign up for Action Alerts.