Today a federal judge ruled that a challenge by various free speech, food safety, and animal rights groups to Iowa's "ag gag" law could proceed--an important legal green light in the lawsuit.

The groups say that the law unconstitutionally blocks the ability of journalists, food safety, and labor advocates to do undercover work in agricultural facilities. Animal rights groups say it prevents them from documenting cruel and inhumane practices in such facilities. 

State and county officials had asked the courts to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the advocacy groups didn't have standing to do so and hadn't made a case that constitutional rights were being violated. But the federal judge disagreed, and said the lawsuit can move forward. 

The Federal District Court for the Southern District of Iowa denied the State of Iowa’s motion to dismiss a pending lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s ag gag law, a positive development for the opponents of the law.

The lawsuit was filed in October 2017 by a coalition of public interest groups and journalists led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Center for Food Safety, and Public Justice.

Iowa clients are Bailing Out Benji, an Iowa nonprofit organization focused on protecting the welfare of dogs and puppies, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI), an organization whose priorities include fighting factory farms to advance worker justice, protecting Iowa’s clean water and environment, and advancing racial justice and immigrants’ rights.

Federal courts have earlier struck down ag gag laws in Idaho and Utah as constitutional. 

The full press release, with a link to the decision, can be found here: