The following are statements regarding the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision today on Ag Gag 1.0.
Rita Bettis Austen
ACLU of Iowa Legal Director
“Today’s decision is a significant partial victory for free speech, because the Court upheld the district court’s injunction blocking the 2012 Iowa Ag Gag provision of law that criminalized making an immaterial false statement in seeking employment at an animal production facility. (One example the Court gives is complimenting the boss’s tie in a job interview.) The First Amendment requires breathing room, and false speech like that is protected. We are grateful that the decision today protects this speech.
"We are, of course, disappointed that the Court didn’t take the same approach to the provision of the law criminalizing 'obtaining access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses' and are evaluating available options for further review by courts. While we never forecast litigation strategy, we believe that the First Amendment requires this type of speech to be protected, too.”
State Policy Organizing Director, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
“Our ability to document and to expose is critical to the public interest in greater transparency and safety in agricultural protection facilities, including protecting workers from abusive working conditions and protecting water quality in our state. We are relieved by the Court’s decision to continue to block the employment provision from taking effect in Iowa.”
Executive Director, Bailing Out Benji
“From the beginning, we were deeply saddened that we even had to go to court in the first place to try to protect our free speech as an organization. We rely on that free speech to do our work in Iowa to protect puppies and dogs from puppy mills. Now, more than ever, it’s important to give a voice to those that have none and make sure that commercial dog breeding facilities are complying with the laws.”