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Sorry, Big Ag: PETA, ALDF ‘Ag-Gag’ Lawsuit Gets Green Light

Written by Alisa Mullins | August 8, 2014

Update: Yesterday, after a PETA Foundation lawyer argued PETA and the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s case, a Utah judge rejected the state’s attempt to have our lawsuit contesting the state’s “ag-gag” law dismissed.

“The American public has a right to know about the horrific conditions on factory farms, and the Utah ‘ag-gag’ law is a blatant violation of free speech and freedom of the press,” said general counsel to PETA Jeff Kerr. “The court’s ruling allows this case to proceed so that PETA can prove what it has said all along: The ‘ag-gag’ law violates the Constitution. PETA is excited for this case to proceed and expects that it will result in the nullification of Utah’s ‘ag-gag’ law.”

 Originally posted on July 21, 2013:

PETA—along with the Animal Legal Defense Fund, investigative journalists, a political journalist, a university history professor and animal rights advocate Amy Meyer, who was recently arrested for filming a downed cow at a Utah slaughterhouse—have filed a groundbreaking lawsuit challenging that state’s “ag-gag” law, which prohibits documenting animal abuse at agricultural operations. The plaintiffs contend that this agri-business law amounts to an unconstitutional attack on investigators’ First Amendment rights.

We Won’t Be Silenced

Since PETA was founded more than 30 years ago, we’ve been uncovering illegal actions and egregious cruelty inside laboratories, circuses, fur farms, puppy mills, factory farms, and slaughterhouses. We believe that people have a right to know what happens to animals behind closed doors.

In 2013, a whistleblower captured video footage of terrified mother pigs’ final moments inside Southern Quality Meats, Inc. (SQM), a Pontotoc, Mississippi, slaughterhouse.

In addition to exposing flagrant cruelty to animals, PETA investigations have revealed routine agricultural practices that cause profound animal suffering, such as the use of battery cages for hens, veal crates, and sow gestation crates, all to intensively confine animals.

Utah’s law keeps cruelty to animals a big secret that only the profiteers can see. It’s a blatant violation of free speech and freedom of the press. It seeks to punish the whistleblowers and investigators who expose inhumane and illegal conduct on factory farms and at slaughterhouses, instead of going after the people who commit these crimes.

What You Can Do

The U.S. Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to speak out against abuse, even when committed by those in positions of power and privilege—and animals need us to exercise that right. Please, when animals are in danger, never be silent!

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  • Jessica says:

    This government allows groups like NAMBLA to exist and have websites that talk about child molestation due to freedom of speech laws. If these laws protect people like that but not the innocent animals what is the government saying? It’s just ridiculous because this is all due to money. How do we fight big AG??!

  • Yay!!! These laws are the ultimate in dishonesty and cynicism. When the shocking abuse of farmed animals is revealed in undercover investigations, the owners and managers of the facilities claim innocence. They swear they didn’t know what was going on and pledge to clean up their acts. Instead, they want to pass laws to cover up the abuse. What kind of repentance is that? If they truly acting in the best for the animals (under conditions that should not be allowed in the first place!), they would stop hiring the dregs of job seekers, do better training with threats of punishment for anyone who harmed the animals, and then install security cameras. But, no, they want to criminalize whistleblowing. I hope that sends a chill through the ranks of all who hope to reveal illegal and bad behavior in our businesses and institutions. If undercover investigations are banned in one area, it should be illegal to allow it in other areas.

  • ginele says:

    WE DO NOT LIVE IN THE DARK AGES!! AND YET WE STILL PRACTICE THIS SHADY LAWS!! TODAY IS THE DAY TO STAND AND BE A VOICE FOR ALL ANIMALS OF THE WORLD! FROM NOW ON!!

  • ginele says:

    NEVER BE SILENT!!! I SPEAK FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NO VOICE!!

  • Heidi says:

    Stop the animal cruelty its horrible

  • Torah says:

    I do not care about that law, i will defy it in every way. No one will stop me from blowing the whistle. I wonder why our president allows this to continue?

  • Nicholas Gysi says:

    Fight Ag Gag. Destroy the bill

  • Elizabeth Duggan says:

    Ag Gag is an insult not only to American democracy, but to every rational soul in this country. It’s a deliberate cover-up of cruelty for money. What if similar laws were used by prisons, hospitals, schools, or anywhere living things are controlled, perhaps abused, by others?

  • freevue says:

    The most appalling, callous, deliberate, prolonged example of cruelty to a sentient animal that I have seen this year.

  • Elaine Brown says:

    What would be the purpose of an Ag Gag Law if not to hide that which the guilty does not want seen. And what would the guilty not want seen?

  • Suzanne says:

    I believe all Ad-gag laws in every state needs every voice we can find among those of us who know the truth behind this deplorable abuse. It is all about the all mighty dollar and not at all about these poor innocent animals who are being tortured and abused. They can’t plead for mercy and so we absolutely MUST speak for them.

  • Jaime says:

    This makes me ashamed to be from Utah. I have written to my “shit head” governor asking him WHY he signed this into law. Of course I got no response. This law is pure torture for animals. Whistle blowers have first amendment rights too!!

  • E says:

    ALL FACTORY FARMING & THEIR EMPLOYEES ARE DISGUSTING & TREAT ALL ANIMALS INHUMANELY.

  • Michele says:

    Why was the name of independant journalist WILL POTTER not mentioned as a plaintiff in the suit ? He is very committed, involved in both animal and people rights and his book, Green Is The New Red has gathered wide raves from the animal advocates and the politically progressives .

  • Gabe Kopca says:

    “Mainstreasm” Media, needs to get close to the flood of Abuse and Torture going on in these places, instead of being a Mouth piece for the very Industries that thrive and profit from it. MainStream Media (Including Public Television) is the PR machine of Evil Corporate, Greedy, Money Hungry Monsters. Enough!!!

  • Raoul Diblasi says:

    This is a direct violation of our First Amendment Rights! It must not prevail! Bravo PETA and ALDF! I am proud to be a part of both worthy organizations!

  • carole dell says:

    This is obviously horrific, all of it. So what are u doing about it?

  • Rita Cross says:

    Courts will allow our freedom of speech and the awful Ag Gag bills will be relegated to the past!

  • anna says:

    No comments… I want to cry…

  • Joan Armer says:

    Clearly these slime buckets want to hide their egregious actions; those who enact these laws are guilty of animal cruelty and deserve to be removed from office. Shame on them! Go vegan!

  • Alicia Hilliard says:

    In the instance of animal cruelty one cannot wait on karma to exact it’s revenge. As beings living together on this planet it is our duty to protect and honor these animals, they are sentient beings, capable of a range of emotions. Why should we not honor them with kindness and compassion while they give their lives to keep you fed? Ag gag bills in any form or function are despicable, criminal and cowardly.

  • Bernice Reynolds says:

    Have always considered these ag-gag bills as unconstitutional. How can you make it illegal for people to know how the food they consume, and that you SELL to them, is raised, fed, and treated. I would have considered that a no-brainer. I’m finding it hard to believe that the federal government let this crap get this far. Not only is this unconstitutional but surely they are breaking consumer protection laws, FDA safety laws, and who knows what the hell else.

  • John says:

    Are other animal welfare groups in the lawsuit along with PETA? All animal welfare groups working together on this lawsuit would be a powerful force.

  • Marianne Liekens says:

    Ik ben al jaren lang een VEGA* diertjes zijn mijn leven * vind ook dat ze op TV veel meer gruwelijkheden van de mens tegenover de dieren moeten laten zien *het is de hoogste tijd ervoor*maar ze laten alleen maar het mooie zien *een schande vind ik dat***wij worden nooit geloofd die al jaren en jaren tekenen ***

  • chander kumar soni says:

    thanks peta.

  • Sharon says:

    challnge the state’s “ag-gag” law, which prohibits documenting animal abuse at agricultural operations. The plaintiffs contend that this agri-business law amounts to an unconstitutional attack on investigators’ First Amendment rights

  • elizabeth says:

    this has been needed for a long time now. Next we need to go to each state and do the very same thing. There is no reason for this abuse and it has to stop! Anyone who says these creatures don’t deserve to be treated better had better take that up with God since he created them!

  • Rachel Ann Smart says:

    How can you put a gag order on anything to do with animal consumption by humans? It should be mandatory for every person to watch that video before being allowed to eat meat.

  • EYG says:

    Ag-gag bills are evil. We must not let this cancer spread to more states. The weasels passing this filth need to be voted out of office for violating Constitutional rights and trying to cover up illegal acts.