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Animal Legal Defense Fund, et al. v. Otter, et al. (Amicus)

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CCR has filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in ALDF v. Otter, a challenge to Idaho’s “ag-gag” law, which punishes recording inside of or obtaining records from an agricultural production facility and obtaining employment through “misrepresentation” “with the intent to cause economic or other injury to the facility’s operations…owners…[or] business interests…”  CCR’s brief argues that Idaho’s law violates the First Amendment.


ALDF v. Otter was filed in March of 2014 by a coalition of animal activists, journalists, workers’ rights groups, environmental organizations, and civil liberties defenders.  On May 21, 2014, CCR filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ opposition to Idaho’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.


In February of 2014, Idaho became the latest state to pass an “ag-gag” law prohibiting whistleblowing in the agricultural industry. Ag-gag laws seek to protect the profits of animal industries by silencing those who would expose and oppose these industries’ use and abuse of animals. 

The push to enact Idaho’s ag-gag law followed an investigation by Mercy for Animals on an Idaho dairy farm.  An undercover activist recorded workers kicking and punching cows in the head, jumping up and down on their backs, and dragging a cow by her neck with a tractor.   Investigations like these have led to slaughter plant closings, animal cruelty convictions, and other serious consequences across the country.  Ag-gag laws have been proposed or passed in more than 20 States in the last four years, as the animal agricultural industry scurries to protect its violent practices from public disclosure.

In its amicus brief, CCR argues that Idaho’s law violates the First Amendment because it impermissibly discriminates on the basis of content and viewpoint, singling out audio- and video-recordings of agricultural operations for prohibition.  The Act also unlawfully criminalizes image capture and misrepresentations that do not amount to fraud, which are both subject to First Amendment protection.

Michael Bartlett, of Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, LLP, is local counsel in the case.