A federal appellate court ruled last week that part of Idaho’s “ag gag” statute was unconstitutional to First Amendment protections. In a 2-1 vote, the 9th Circuit Court reversed a lower court’s decision, saying a video ban was a “classic example of a content-based restriction that cannot survive strict scrutiny.”
In addition to allowing shooting secret videos, the ruling also voided a ban on making misrepresentations to enter facilities because the court said it could criminalize innocent behavior and targets investigative journalists.
The court upheld part of the ag gag law ruling Idaho could criminalize individuals making misrepresentations to obtain agricultural facility records, and to obtain employment with the intent of causing economic harm.
The Idaho Legislature passed the ag gag law otherwise known as “Interference with Agricultural Production” law in 2014 after an undercover video showed abuse at an Idaho dairy. Led by the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, the goal of the law was to protect agriculture from wrongful interference and prevent undercover video investigators from coming onto farms.
This is the first time a federal appellate court has found a constitutional right to record images on private property like a farm. Animal rights groups are praising the ruling as a major victory.