A federal judge on January 9 struck down a so-called “ag-gag” law in Iowa that banned activists and journalists from going undercover to report on animal rights abuses.
The court ruled that the statute was unconstitutional and violated free speech protections.
Industry groups representing large-scale livestock operations and slaughterhouses pressured Iowa’s legislature to pass the law in 2012.
Those found guilty of using undercover methods or false identities to report on animal facilities faced up to a year in jail. The law also criminalized some cases of whistleblowing.
The law passed after undercover investigations revealed video footage of animal mistreatment at Iowa facilities.
Animal rights groups and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the law in 2017.
In his decision, U.S. Southern District of Iowa Senior Judge James Gritzner said that the law’s restrictions on First Amendment rights outweighed industry groups’ arguments that it protects farmers’ biosecurity and private property rights.
Federal courts in Idaho and Utah have struck down similar measures.