The University of Denver law professors who filed a challenge to Utah’s law barring audio or video recordings of purported animal abuse in agricultural operations have filed a second challenge to a similar law that recently took effect in Idaho. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Otter, No. 14-0104 (U.S. Dist. Ct., D. Idaho, filed March 17, 2014). Both lawsuits challenge the so-called “ag-gag” laws on constitutional grounds. utah’s attorney general has requested that the lawsuit filed in that state in 2013 be dismissed on standing grounds; the issue will be argued on May 15.
Filed against the governor on behalf of animal rights organizations, the American Civil Liberties union, Center for Food safety, journalists, historians, and an “agricultural investigations expert,” the Idaho lawsuit contends that the statute “defines ‘agricultural production facility’ so broadly” that it would apply to “public parks, restaurants, nursing homes, grocery stores, pet stores, and virtually every public accommodation and private residence in the state.”The plaintiffs claim that the law, which has not yet been used to charge anyone, (i) “criminalizes efforts to document criminal behavior in a workplace”; (ii) “limits speech in the form of sound and image production, and it does so in a content-based manner”; (iii) was intended to “punish animal rights groups and curtail a form of political speech of great public interest”; and (iv) “renders impossible the creation of non-industry-approved speech about matters of great public importance.”
The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging causes of action sounding in First Amendment overbreadth and content and viewpoint-based discrimination; supremacy Clause preemption under the False Claims Act, Food safety Modernization Act and Clean Water Act; and Fourteenth Amend- ment equal protection and due process.