In this file:
· Iowa 'ag gag' law struck down by federal judge
· Federal judge strikes down Iowa law on undercover ag workers
Iowa 'ag gag' law struck down by federal judge
Donnelle Eller and Lucas Grundmeier, Des Moines Register (IA)
Jan. 9, 2019
A federal judge Wednesday ruled Iowa's "ag gag" law was unconstitutional, saying the industry-backed statute violated the First Amendment's free-speech protections.
Senior Judge James Gritzner granted summary judgment to a group that had sued over the law.
The group challenging the law included environmental, worker rights and animal welfare advocates.
“Today's decision is an important victory for free speech in Iowa, because it holds that Iowa’s ag gag law on its face is a violation of the First Amendment,” said Rita Bettis Austen, ACLU of Iowa legal director.
“It has effectively silenced advocates and ensured that animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, environmental hazards, and inhumane working conditions go unreported for years," Bettis said in a statement.
Attorney General Tom Miller and Gov. Kim Reynolds were among the defendants named in the lawsuit.
Miller's office said Wednesday it's reviewing the ruling to determine whether to appeal.
The 2012 Agricultural Production Facility Fraud law made it a crime for journalists and advocacy groups to go undercover at meatpacking plants, livestock confinements, puppy mills and other ag-related operations to investigate working conditions, animal welfare, food safety and environmental hazards, among other practices.
The state had argued that its restrictions were constitutionally permissible because they ensured biosecurity and private property protections…
Federal judge strikes down Iowa law on undercover ag workers
By David Pitt, Daily Journal (IN)
DES MOINES, Iowa — A federal judge on Wednesday struck down an Iowa law that made it illegal to get a job at a livestock farm to conduct an animal cruelty undercover investigation, finding the law violated the constitutional right to free speech.
U.S. District Court Judge James Gritzner sided with opponents of the 2012 law that was intended to stop organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals from doing animal abuse investigations at farms and puppy mills. Iowa lawmakers approved the measure, which threatened up to a year in jail to those who conducted an undercover operation, after several high-profile cases in which animal welfare advocates recorded questionable animal treatment and then publicized the images through the media.
Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa, called the ruling “an important victory for free speech” and argued the so-called ag-gag law was an example of government using its power to protect those with power. The ACLU joined with animal welfare, food safety and open government advocates in the lawsuit, filed in 2017 in U.S. District Court in Des Moines.
“Ag gag clearly is a violation of Iowans’ First Amendment rights to free speech,” Bettis said in a statement. “It has effectively silenced advocates and ensured that animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, environmental hazards, and inhumane working conditions go unreported for years.”
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, which joined in the lawsuit, noted no undercover investigations had taken place in Iowa since the law was approved in 2012.
“Ag-Gag laws are a pernicious attempt by animal exploitation industries to hide some of the worst forms of animal abuse in the United States,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement.
Federal courts have struck down similar laws in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Litigation is ongoing in North Carolina.
A spokesman for the Iowa attorney general’s office...