September 4, 2014, Boise – Today, a federal judge denied Idaho’s motion to dismiss Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter, a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s “ag-gag” law, which punishes undercover investigations and whistleblowing inside of animal agricultural facilities. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which filed an amicus brief arguing that the statute violates the First Amendment, issued the following statement:
The court has correctly recognized that Idaho’s ag-gag law is constitutionally suspect. Lawmakers could not have been clearer that the purpose of the law is to silence animal rights activists, explicitly stating that it was drafted to protect the economic interests of animal agriculture, that releasing undercover footage from a dairy farm and calling for a boycott of dairy products “crossed the…line,” and that the dairy industry aimed to protect itself from being “persecuted in the court of public opinion.”In fact, the only line that has been crossed is the constitutional line that protects speech from being criminalized. That line is the First Amendment, and it not only allows, it insists, that important questions – such as what rights animals are entitled to – be debated in the court of public opinion.The Constitution does not permit special laws to protect the animal agriculture industry from public scrutiny simply because it is not winning that debate.
A coalition of animal activists, journalists, workers’ rights organizations, environmental groups, and civil liberties defenders are plaintiffs in the case.