Federal judge strikes down Iowa's 'ag-gag' law that blocked undercover investigations

Federal judge strikes down Iowa's 'ag-gag' law that blocked undercover investigations
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A federal judge in Iowa on Wednesday struck down the state’s so-called “ag-gag” law, which barred journalists and advocacy groups from conducting undercover investigations of factory farms, slaughterhouses and other facilities.

The 2012 Agricultural Production Facility Fraud law, which was widely supported by the agricultural industry, was challenged by a group that included the national Animal Legal Defense Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

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Senior Judge James Gritzner said in his decision that the law violated the First Amendment, according to The Des Moines Register.

Proponents of the law said that the restrictions helped prevent “subversive acts” from activist groups, according to the Register.

Opponents said that the “ag-gag” law had a chilling effect on employees who may want to report unsafe working conditions or other abuses within facilities.

"Ag-Gag laws are a pernicious attempt by animal exploitation industries to hide some of the worst forms of animal abuse in the United States," Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement. "Today's victory makes it clear that the government cannot protect these industries at the expense of our constitutional rights.”

The state has not yet ruled out appealing the judge’s decision.