Friday, October 4, 2013

Animal Rights Groups File Lawsuit in Federal Court Challenging Utah’s So-Called “Ag-Gag” Statute

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), journalists, and college professors joined together to file a lawsuit in Utah District Court challenging the validity of the Utah’s “agricultural operation interference” law on First Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment grounds.

The Utah Law, Utah Code Ann. §76-6-112 makes it a Class A misdemeanor for a person to knowingly or intentionally record an image or sound from an agricultural operation by “leaving a recording device on the agricultural operation” without the consent of the owner.  It also makes it a Class B misdemeanor for a person to obtain access to an agricultural operation under false pretenses; apply for employment on an agricultural operation with the intent to record an image or sound when they know that the owner of the operation prohibits the employee from recording an image or sound of the operation and record an image or sound of the agricultural operation while employed at and present on the agricultural operation; or knowingly or intentionally record an image or sound of an agricultural operation while committing a criminal trespass.  The law was passed by the Utah Legislature in 2012.

The July 22, 2013 complaint says that the Utah law prohibits images and speech that are unfavorable toward the agriculture industry while allowing images and speech that show agriculture in a positive light.  It claims that the law criminalizes protected speech.

For more information on the law suit, see the Globe Gazette article and the Ag & Food Law Blog post.

Written by Alyssa Looney – Research Assistant
The Agricultural Law Resource and Reference Center
October 4, 2013

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