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Federal Court Strikes Down Iowa’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Law That Blocked Undercover Investigations

Ag-Gag laws are an attempt by animal farming to hide the worst forms of animal cruelty in the US. This victory makes it clear that the government cannot protect these industries at the expense of our constitutional rights.

WSKG: ‘A federal judge in Iowa says it’s no longer a crime to go undercover at factory farms, slaughterhouses, and any other ag-related operations. The 2012 law was a clear violation of the First Amendment, the judge said. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, one of the plaintiffs in the case, called the ruling “a win for free speech and animal protection.” “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,” ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a statement. “Today’s victory makes it clear that the government cannot protect these industries at the expense of our constitutional rights”…

Iowa created the crime of “agricultural production facility fraud” shortly after several investigations “brought critical national attention to Iowa’s agricultural industry,” wrote James Gritzner, senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. Iowa is one of the nation’s largest producers of livestock. Gritzner cited multiple undercover investigations of Iowan industrial farms, which found workers had thrown pigs against the floor, or burned off the beaks of hens without painkillers. At least some of those investigations were carried out by people who took the jobs in order to expose mistreatment of animals, Gritzner said…

The question before the judge was whether lying — in this case, taking a job under false pretenses — is protected by the First Amendment. In the circumstances here, he ruled, lies are protected. “To some degree, the concept of constitutional protection for speech that is false may be disquieting,” Gritzner wrote. However, he said, quoting the U.S. Supreme Court, “the Nation well knows that one of the costs of the First Amendment is that it protects the speech we detest as well as the speech we embrace.” The First Amendment protects false statements, said Gritzner, “whether they be investigative deceptions or innocuous lies”.’ SOURCE…

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