August 3, 2015, New York – In response to the ruling by a federal judge today striking down Idaho’s “ag-gag” law, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued the following statement:
We applaud the court for striking down a law that squarely violated the First Amendment. Idaho’s lawmakers could not have been clearer that the purpose of the ag-gag law was to silence animal rights activists who document and expose the violence in animal agriculture. These laws have the added effect of making it illegal to document everything from worker abuse to violations of environmental protection laws.
Given the suffering consistently documented in undercover investigations, it is unsurprising that the animal agriculture industry would lobby lawmakers heavily to make exposing it illegal. As the court recognized today, the First Amendment does not permit the industry to hide the truth simply because that truth is horrifying.
Over the past decade, animal rights activists have conducted more than 80 undercover investigations inside of animal agricultural facilities. In response, industry groups have waged an aggressive effort to pass state-level ag-gag laws. Idaho’s law was enacted in February, despite strong opposition, following an undercover investigation by Mercy For Animals inside of an Idaho dairy farm that uncovered, among other footage, cows who were too sick or injured to walk, cows being beaten and dragged by their necks, and mother cows bellowing as their newborn calves are dragged away. Over 20 ag-gag bills in more than a dozen states have failed in the past two years.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org; follow @theCCR.