A federal judge has officially overturned a 2012 Utah law that made a criminal offense of lying to access a farm and filming once inside. Politico’s Morning Agriculture Report says that makes it the second “ag-gag” law to be struck down for violating the First Amendment.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals brough suit against the law. In a ruling issued last Friday, Judge Robert Shelby of the Utah U.S. District Court found that the state undoubtedly has an interest in addressing threats to the state’s agricultural industry. Shelby said, “As history shows, the state has a variety of constitutionally permitted tools at its disposal to do so.
Supressing broad swaths of protected speech without justification, however, is not one of them.” The decision is similar to a ruling from a district court judge in Idaho in 2015. That case is currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after that state appealed a lower court’s ruling that found the law unconstitutional. Oral arguments took place in May of this year and a final order could possibly come at any time.