PHILIP A. JANQUART
March 25, 2014
An Idaho state senator likens investigative journalists to terrorists, the ACLU and others say in a federal lawsuit that challenges the constitutionality of an emergency “Ag Gag” law, which the plaintiffs say is meant to hide animal abuse and chill free speech.
Gov. Butch Otter signed the Senate Bill 1337 into law Feb. 28, making Idaho the seventh state to pass such a measure.
Under the law, anyone caught secretly filming “agricultural production” is subject to a prison term and a fine.
Twelve organizations and five people filed a 52-page federal complaint against the governor and attorney general last week.
The long list of plaintiffs includes the Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the Center for Food Safety, the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho and the Western Watersheds Project, along with news journal CounterPunch, Washington, D.C. journalist Will Potter, freelance Idaho journalist Blair Koch and agricultural investigations expert Daniel Hauff.
Idaho’s law was enacted as “an emergency provision, which went into effect immediately upon the governor’s signature,” according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs say the law violates the First and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, as well as the Supremacy Clause.
Prior to his political career, Otter was a member “on the Board of Directors of the J.R. Simplot Company,” according to a state website. “He also served as Director of the Food Products Division, [was] President of Simplot Livestock, and President of Simplot International. He retired in 1993.”
This article was posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 11:35 am