Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Iowa's ag gag law stricken by judge

Iowa’s ag gag law stricken by judge


Iowa’s second law seeking to criminalize unauthorized surveillance by the likes of animal activists on agricultural properties has been deemed unconstitutional by a federal judge Stephanie Rose.

She said the legislation repeats intentions that led other judges to rule laws restricting animal rights activists are a violation of free speech guaranteed by the United States constitution.

Rose rejected the state’s contention that while some legislators expressed a need to muzzle animal activists and critics, the law’s intent was to address a larger need to protect private property and biosecurity.

“To be sure, some of the investigations may violate other laws,” the judge wrote. “However, the State of Iowa may not single out individuals for special punishment based on their critical viewpoint of agricultural practices … . It is the proper province of the legislature to determine whether specific facilities — such as agricultural facilities, nuclear power plants, military bases, or other sensitive buildings — are entitled to special legal protections. 

“However, the First Amendment does not allow those protections to be based on a violator’s viewpoint.”

Last year Ontario passed a law seeking to protect farmers from animal-fights trespassers.