Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert
United States District Court for the District of Utah
263 F. Supp. 3d 1193 (2017)
Utah passed an ag-gag law after animal-rights advocates exposed animal abuse in the agricultural industry by undercover operations. The ag-gag law criminalized an individual’s lying to gain access to agricultural operations and recording an agricultural operation after gaining improper access. The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and Amy Meyer, a citizen previously charged under the ag-gag law (collectively, the advocates) (plaintiffs), sued Governor Gary Herbert and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes (collectively, the state) (defendants). The advocates argued that the ag-gag law restricted their free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because they had previously engaged in undercover operations to expose the agricultural organizations and desired to do so again. The state argued that the advocates did not have standing to sue. The state also argued that the ag-gag law did not implicate First Amendment concerns because the lying provision did not concern protected speech and the recording provision did not concern any speech. Alternatively, the state argued that the ag-gag law passed constitutional scrutiny because of the state’s compelling interest in protecting employee and animal safety. The advocates and the state each moved for summary judgment.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Shelby, J.)
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