Originally published August 23 2015
Idaho ag-gag law ruled unconstitutional by federal judge
by Daniel Barker
(NaturalNews) In what has been hailed a victory for civil and animal rights activists, a federal court has ruled that an Idaho "Ag-Gag" law is unconstitutional and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Ag-Gag laws, which are on the books in seven states, are designed to prevent whistleblowing in the agricultural industry.
An Idaho American Civil Liberties Union press release states:
The statute criminalizes undercover investigations that document animal welfare, worker safety, and food safety violations at an "agricultural production facility," thus "gagging" speech that is critical of industrial agriculture, including speech that advances significant public interests in protecting Idahoans' safety. Under this law, journalists, workers, activists, and members of the public can be convicted for documenting animal cruelty or life-threatening safety violations.
The Idaho Ag-Gag ruling marks the first time that a federal court has ruled against such a law, and the precedent might help in the effort to rescind these types of laws in other states. Ag-Gag laws are "notoriously unsupported" by the American public; similar laws were challenged and defeated in 32 states before they had a chance to pass.
The judge in the Idaho case, B. Lynn Winmill, was correct in his ruling that the law violated the First Amendment protecting free speech and the Fourteenth Amendment's "Equal Protection" clause. The Ag-Gag law was clearly designed to suppress speech and unfairly target animal rights activists.
Judge Winmill wrote that the law "...seeks to limit and punish those who speak out on topics relating to the agricultural industry, striking at the heart of important First Amendment values. The effect of the statute will be to suppress speech by undercover investigators and whistle-blowers concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply; the safety of agricultural workers; the treatment and health of farm animals; and the impact of business activities on the environment."
The Idaho Ag-Gag law was passed following a 2012 undercover investigation by an animal rights activist group, which released a video that showed horrific examples of animal abuse at an Idaho dairy farm.
An editorial in the Des Moines Register said:
The graphic video, which showed workers kicking, clubbing and literally jumping on injured cows, sparked a furor among animal-rights activists nationwide.
In response, the Idaho Dairymen's Association drafted legislation criminalizing any future undercover operations targeting their industry. The bill was quickly passed by outraged legislators who compared undercover investigators to 'terrorists' and 'vigilantes,' and was signed into law by the governor.
Activism = TerrorismCan activism really be equated with terrorism? That seems to be the approach these days on the part of legislators and the special interest groups who have bought them off; they seek to label anyone who questions their inhumane, unethical or illegal profit-minded activities as "terrorists" and "vigilantes".
In fact, it almost seems as if the label of "terrorist" or "potential terrorist" has begun to be applied to a large percentage of the American populace. If you challenge corporate abuses, you're a terrorist. If you question the government, you're a potential terrorist. If you served in the military, you're a potential terrorist. If you stockpile emergency supplies, you're a potential terrorist.
For many of us, the real terror is coming from those who are doing all the labeling. It is becoming clear that in the "new" America, what was once called exercising one's freedom has now been labeled as terrorist activity and that's a very frightening realization.
At least there are a few wise and courageous judges within the federal judicial system who are not afraid to strike down statutes designed to legalize these authoritarian Newspeak doctrines being promulgated by the fascist oligarchy that now effectively owns the U.S. government and therefore controls the populace.
Our federal courts are apparently the last institutional bastions protecting our constitutional rights now that nearly all of our politicians have sold us down the river.
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