A COURT challenge has been filed against Idaho's recently passed law protecting farmers from activists seeking to conduct video surveillance, obtain records or gain employment with an intent to cause economic harm.
Idaho is the seventh state to pass such an "ag gag" law and the first to do so since 2012. If found guilty of the misdemeanor crime, defendants could serve up to one year in jail and be fined as much as $5,000.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), plus a host of other plaintiffs, filed their lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho.
The plaintiffs claim that the law "silences would-be whistleblowers by intimidating journalists and activists from exercising their First Amendment rights."
In the last decade, animal protection advocates have conducted more than 80 undercover investigations at farms in the U.S., virtually all of which would be criminalized under the Idaho statute.
In a release from CFS, Erwin Chemerinky, constitutional law expert and dean at the University of California-Irvine School of Law, said he is "confident that this law will be struck down under ninth circuit and Supreme Court precedents."
He added that the law endangers people at the expense of freedom of speech and would even "criminalize a whistleblower who took a picture of video of wrongdoing in the workplace."