At a Glance
Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett, LLP is local counsel in the case.
In February of 2014, Idaho became the latest state to pass an “ag-gag” law prohibiting undercover investigations and whistleblowing in animal agriculture. The law passed despite strong public opposition and 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…”
Ag-gag laws are the industry’s response to more than 80 undercover investigations conducted by animal rights activists in the last decade, revealing the horrific violence inherent in animal agriculture. Over 20 ag-gag bills in more than a dozen states failed between 2012 and 2014. Ag-gag laws stifle newsgathering and violate the First Amendment, singling out for punishment speech that is critical of violence against animals in agriculture.
The push to enact Idaho’s ag-gag law followed an investigation by Mercy for Animals on an Idaho dairy farm, and 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.”
CCR’s amicus brief in Otter is part of our longstanding efforts to combat the criminalization of dissent and, in particular, to defend animal rights and environmental activists targeted by the Green Scare.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter was filed by a coalition of animal activists, journalists, workers’ rights organizations, environmental groups, and civil liberties defenders. CCR filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs’ opposition to Idaho’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. We argued that the law violates the First Amendment because it discriminates on the basis of content and viewpoint and unlawfully criminalizes image captures and misrepresentations that do not amount to fraud. On September 4, 2014, the judge denied Idaho’s motion to dismiss the case.