The campaign to promote veganism by exposing the destructive reality of the animal agriculture industry.

THE ILLEGAL TRUTH: Court partially upholds Iowa’s original 2012 ‘Ag-Gag’ law; lawsuit challenges new 2021 statute


The upheld law makes it a crime for anyone who obtains access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses or makes a false statement or representation in the course of an employment application if the person intends to commit any unauthorized actions, such as videotaping, once hired.

WILLIAM MORRIS: A divided panel of  Iowa’s 8th Circuit Court judges partially upheld Iowa’s 2012 “Ag-Gag” law, even as a coalition of animal rights groups filed another lawsuit challenging a follow-up law passed earlier this year. The various laws — Iowa now has passed four such statutes — target animal rights activists who for years have worked to publish video and images from inside large livestock facilities, often after getting themselves hired on as employees.

The laws created criminal offenses for anyone who “obtains access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses” or “makes a false statement or representation” in the course of an employment application if the person intends to commit any unauthorized actions, such as videotaping, once hired”.

The 2012 law was the first to pass, and was challenged in court by several organizations, including Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. A district court judge ruled in their favor, finding that both of the law’s provisions violate the First Amendment’s right to freedom of speech. The state appealed.

In the meantime, Iowa has passed three more such laws, most recently in April. One of those laws also has been blocked by a district court, although a final ruling was on hold pending the 8th Circuit’s decision on the first law. Now a new lawsuit filed Tuesday by many of the same organizations seeks to strike down the fourth law, as well… While Iowa’s 2012 law addressed entry into agricultural facilities, the 2021 law challenged in court Tuesday is focused on specific activities inside such facilities.

House File 775, signed into law in April, makes it a misdemeanor to use or place a camera or recording device while on private property without consent. It also criminalizes taking soil and water samples or samples from animals without permission… The law could also, they note, apply to journalists documenting train crashes, to whistleblowers or to business patrons recording discriminatory denials of service…

In a statement Tuesday announcing the new suit, animal rights advocates said the law is not only unconstitutional as applied to factory farms, but so over-broad that it could stifle journalism and advocacy in a wide range of locations, potentially even including legislative offices… Kelsey Eberly, an attorney at the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement the new lawsuit is all the more important in light of the 8th Circuit’s decision on the 2012 law…

“After repeated attempts by the state of Iowa to thwart animal advocates’ efforts to document the inhumane treatment of animals on factory farms, the legislature has enacted a new and broader law that deceptively impacts a broad range of industries while still maintaining its original — and unconstitutional — purpose of suppressing speech about industrial agriculture,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said in the news release. SOURCE…