Time for some good news.
“A federal judge struck down Utah’s so-called “ag gag” law Friday, ruling it violates free speech rights,” Salt Lake City’s KSL Broadcast News reports.
* “The Utah Legislature approved a bill in 2012 that made it a class B misdemeanor to trespass on private livestock or poultry operations and record sound or images without the owner’s permission. It also prohibited seeking employment with the intent of making those recordings. Leaving a recording device for that purpose was a class A misdemeanor.”
* “The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and several individuals claimed the law violated their rights to free speech and equal protection. They argued the law criminalizes undercover investigations and videography at slaughterhouses, factory farms and other agricultural operations, and silenced speech that is critical of the industry.”
* “Utah undoubtedly has an interest in addressing perceived threats to the state agricultural industry, and as history shows, it has a variety of constitutionally permissible tools at its disposal to do so,” U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby concluded in a 31-page ruling. “Suppressing broad swaths of protected speech without justification, however, is not one of them.”
Job well done, transparency advocates (and lawyers!).