Federal Judge Strikes Down Utah "Ag-Gag" Law
On Friday a federal judge ruled that Utah’s so-called “ag-gag” law is unconstitutional.
The decision came after three animal rights groups sued the state of Utah saying that the law violated the First Amendment. The law titled Agricultural Operation Interference passed the state legislature in 2012. It prohibited individuals from lying to get access to agricultural facilities and recording their operations once inside.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit was Amy Meyer, the director of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition. She was the first person charged with violating Utah’s ag-gag law in 2013 after filming what she described as a sick cow being pushed by heavy machinery at a slaughterhouse in Draper. At the time Meyer was on public property and the chargers against her were later dismissed.
In Friday’s decision, U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby wrote that while the state attorneys argued that this law was created to protect the “health and safety of animals and employees” in reality it was “tailored toward preventing undercover investigators from exposing abuses at agricultural facilities.” The judge agreed with the plaintiffs, ruling that Utah’s ag-gag law violated protected speech under the First Amendment.