Think people have a right to know how animals are treated at factory farms? Well, the Constitution agrees!
In a huge victory for animal and free speech advocates, a federal judge just declared Utah’s “ag-gag” law unconstitutional. Writing for the District Court of Utah, Judge Robert Shelby criticized the law for “[s]uppressing broad swaths of protected speech without justification” and upheld the right of groups like Mercy For Animals to continue going undercover and exposing abuse at factory farms in the state. This is the second ag-gag law to be found unconstitutional by a federal court after being challenged by PETA, ALDF, and citizens.
MFA applauds Judge Shelby for standing up for human and animal rights. We are thrilled to see the court uphold fundamental constitutional guarantees. The public has a right to know how its food is produced and how animals at factory farms and slaughterhouses are treated. The factory farming industry needs more transparency, not less.
In 2011, the factory farming industry started pushing for ag-gag laws designed to prevent animal protection groups from exposing animal abuse and other crimes at their facilities in dozens of states. Most of these bills were defeated, but a handful of states passed them into law. With the laws in Idaho and now Utah overturned, only ag-gag laws in Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and North Carolina remain on the books. Today’s unambiguous ruling, however, may spell the end of the ag-gag era once and for all!
Meanwhile, undercover investigations by MFA and other groups continue to spur groundbreaking corporate animal welfare policy changes, new and improved laws to protect farmed animals and consumers, felony and misdemeanor convictions of animal abusers, and the closure of especially corrupt animal facilities.
MFA is committed to providing this vital public service for as long as it is needed, and we are grateful to have our right to do it upheld today.