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Idaho Joins Utah in Asking Federal Court to Dismiss ‘Ag-Gag’ Lawsuit

Idaho wants a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the state by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

“ALDF attacks a statute it wishes had passed,” say attorneys for Idaho Gov. C.L “Butch” Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

“The statute actually passed has nothing to do with speech or employee whistleblowing,” they wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Instead, they say the law to protect the state’s agricultural production facilities deals with specific forms of conduct by non-employees who gain access through force, threat, or misrepresentation.

“The law may interfere with ALDF’s preferred business model, but as a statute applicable to all individuals’ and organizations’ conduct, it violates neither Free Speech nor the Equal Protection Clause,” Clay R. Smith and Carl J. Withroe, deputy Idaho attorneys general, wrote.

Denver University law professors sued Idaho on behalf of the ALDF and other individuals and groups after Otter signed a bill into law that animal activists called an “ag-gag” measure because it makes it more difficult for outsiders to collect evidence of animal abuse. The suit asks that the Idaho law be struck down as unconstitutional.

Utah is also being sued by ALDF, and state attorneys have also asked a federal judge to dismiss that lawsuit, largely because they claim none of the plaintiffs have standing to challenge state law. Idaho attorneys, however, are making their arguments for dismissal on additional arguments.

They point to a 1971 Court of Appeals case, Dietemann v. Time Inc., in which Life magazine journalists had taken photographs and surreptitiously recorded conversations inside a house where access was gained by subterfuge.

“The First Amendment has never been construed to accord newsmen immunity from torts or crimes committed during the course of newsgathering,” the appeals court wrote. “The First Amendment is not a license to trespass, to steal, or to intrude by electronic means into the precincts of another’s home or office. It does not become a license simply because the person subjected to the intrusion is reasonably suspected of committing a crime.”

U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill has scheduled a telephonic hearing for scheduling purposes for May 8. The U.S. District Court for Utah has scheduled the dismissal motion for consideration on May 15.

© Food Safety News
  • Barb3000

    The Gov Butch Otter is the one that has had open season on wolves in his state. I don’t like that man I think he runs Idaho like hes running a crime syndicate, crooked as they come. From the cruelty that has been uncovered in a number of these states in the livestock and poultry industry something needs to be done to stop it. These farmers are not going to police themselves or bother to check on the people they have hired to work for them. That Ag-Gag law needs to go.