A federal judge on August 3, 2015, struck down Idaho's law against undercover videos in agricultural facilities, saying it violated the First Amendment.
"The facts show the state's purpose in enacting the statute was to protect industrial animal agriculture by silencing its critics," district Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote.
Sometimes investigative journalists need to go undercover. Nellie Bly did it. Upton Sinclair did it. And sometimes muckraking journalists need undercover whistleblowers to tip them to abuses. All that could be illegal under the "ag-gag" laws passed by some farm states in recent years.
Seven states besides Idaho have passed similar laws: Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Utah and North Carolina. The question now is what effect the Idaho decision will have on their enforceability. A coalition of journalism groups currently has pending a lawsuit challenging Utah's ag-gag law on First Amendment grounds.
- "The Beginning of the End for Ag-Gag Laws," Slate, August 4, 2015, by Josh Voorhees.
- "Judge Strikes Down Idaho 'Ag-Gag' Law, Raising Questions for Other States," NPR, August 4, 2015, by Luke Runyon.
- "Murphy: After the 'Ag Gag' Reversal," Pork Network, August 11, 2015, by Dan Murphy.
- "Idaho's Ban on Undercover Animal Abuse Videos Struck Down by Federal Judge," Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2015, by Matt Pearce.
- "Federal Judge in Boise Strikes Down Idaho’s New ‘Ag-Gag’ Law," Food Safety News, August 4, 2015, by Dan Flynn.
- "Federal Judge Strikes Down Idaho’s ‘Ag-Gag’ Law," Idaho Statesman, August 3, 2015, by Zach Kyle and Cynthia Sewell.
- "Idaho's Anti-Whistleblower Ag Gag Law Ruled Unconstitutional," Food Integrity Campaign (Government Accountability Project), August 4, 2015, by Amanda Hitt.
- Editorial: "Exposing Abuse on the Factory Farm," New York Times, August 8, 2015.
- Decision and Order, Animal Legal Defense Fund et al. v C.L. Butch Otter et al., August 3, 2015.
- Previous Stories: WatchDogs of May 20, 2015, January 14, 2015, December 18, 2013, and May 22, 2013.