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'Ag-Gag' Law Struck Down As Unconstitutional

Luke Runyon, Harvest Public Medi
An Idaho judge says a law criminalizing undercover recordings of farms and ranches is unconstitutional.

An Idaho judge this week struck down a law that criminalized undercover recordings of farms and ranches. As Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon reports, that could put a similar law in Kansas in jeopardy.

Most ag-gag laws, as they’re called, are designed to prevent animal rights groups from secretly videotaping large-scale dairy, poultry and hog farms. They’re usually looking for instances of abuse. The Idaho judge said the state’s law was unconstitutional.

In the wake of the ruling, University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau says states with this type of law on the books should expect to be sued. And, he says the judge’s decision could keep other states from considering their own “ag-gag” laws.

“Now if you’re passing one these laws, you’re staring down the barrel of a precedent that says, ‘This does violate the First Amendment,’” Marceau says.

The Idaho attorney general has yet to file an appeal. Agricultural groups in the state say they’ll support one.

As KUNC’s reporter covering the Colorado River Basin, I dig into stories that show how water issues can both unite and divide communities throughout the Western U.S. I produce feature stories for KUNC and a network of public media stations in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Nevada.