U.S. Judge Removes Gag from Idaho “Ag-Gag” Law

Senior U.S. Judge Lynn Winmill overturned Idaho’s “Ag-Gag” law Monday in an order for summary judgment.

Winmill ruled against Gov. Butch Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden who were sued by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).
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Winmill based his ruling on the constitutional violation of the First Amendment right to free speech and the equal protection clause.

The ALDF group challenged the “Ag-Gag law which was passed by the legislature after undercover animal rights activists released video of dairy workers beating cows and dragging them behind a tractor at a SE Idaho dairy farm.

The legislature made it a crime to make video recordings of activities. They claimed the law was intended to protect private property, but Winmill said the law’s intent was to muffle free speech and restrict whistleblowers from revealing matters of public importance–like food production.

A spokesman for Attorney General Wasden offered “no comment” and said the office is “reviewing its options.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Grumpy ole Guy
    Aug 3, 2015, 9:10 pm

    A most welcome decision for freedom of information, the press and speech. It can be hoped that the Legislature and Governor can learn a lesson of basic Constitutional rights from this; but. I doubt that the Constitution trumps monied interests in their books.

  2. Butch Otter, protector of corporate criminals, loses again. Time for him to go.

  3. Governor Butch,

    Why is it so difficult to find a steak that isn’t from a eight y.o. tapped out dairy cow?

    I thought this was Idaho Butch. How about a law against tired old dairy cows being sold as fresh tender steaks.

  4. chicago sam
    Aug 4, 2015, 9:22 am

    Filming of downer cows OK–Filming of sale of fetuses not OK–

  5. John Spurlock
    Aug 4, 2015, 9:27 am

    And how much money was spent on this law, both before and after?

  6. Hmmm….so hi-tech employers like Micron and HP ban employees from taking pictures/video on their premises. This is because of fears about trade secrets being compromised rather than covering up possible crimes. But, I guess this means a person can record if a crime is being committed at those businesses as well and therefore such rules can be violated in that instance based on this ruling.

  7. Mooo!

    I don’t see where the ALDF has legal standing to sue in this case.

    ALDF has about 6million dollars “in the bank”. Their CEO gets paid 133000 a year (year 2013). They receive 8million a year in dough. That can buy a lot of attorney time.

    From a grammar police for things that matter – pretty sure Equal Protection Clause would be capitalized as there is only one.

  8. Private land owners should be able to limit and control behavior on their land. If you disagree with the house rules, lease the house.

    I can not walk into a restaurant and film how they make my favorite dish, the secret recipe for KFC chicken, or the Micron R&D lab.

    If an employee or guest of a dairy notice animal abuse, there are existing laws including whistle-blower protections to elevate and resolve these violations. We do not need more laws.

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