September 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 262

Advertisement

September 17, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

September 16, 2021

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

Are “Ag-Gag” Laws Unconstitutional? The Answer May Be Coming Soon

Remember the video images of forklifts battering the “downer cows” at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. from a few years ago? In some states, there are laws preventing those types of images from ever being provided to the public and authorities. These so-called “Ag-Gag” laws typically prohibit individuals from taking videos or pictures at food manufacturing facilities without permission. Seven states, including North Dakota, Montana and Kansas, who adopted such laws in 1990-91, and Utah, Iowa, Missouri and recently Idaho, who all adopted such laws since 2011, have some element of an “Ag-Gag” law on their books.

But that may change if two constitutional law professors from the University of Denver (UD) have their way. Professor Alan Chen is leading a challenge against Utah’s “Ag-Gag” law that the Utah attorney general has asked the United States District Court to dismiss on the grounds that none of the plaintiffs has standing. The case was brought after an animal activist was charged under Utah’s law, but that matter was dismissed. The current action has been brought on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Another UD law professor, Justin Marceau, brought suit against Idaho’s recently adopted law. But because this law is so new, no one has been charged under it yet. Thus, it is likely the Idaho attorney general will also seek dismissal of the suit on standing grounds.

The challenges to both the Idaho and Utah laws are based upon alleged violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and its Supremacy Clause. If the Courts do not dismiss these matters for lack of standing, and the merits of these cases are examined, we will soon have two significant judicial pronouncements on the question of whether “Ag-Gag” laws are constitutional.

©2021 MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLPNational Law Review, Volume IV, Number 78
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

About this Author

Paul E. Benson, product and tort liability litigator, michael best law firm
Partner

For more than 25 years, Paul has specialized in product liability defense, class action defense, insurance litigation, and complex commercial litigation. He is particularly well known for his work in the class action and food and beverage sectors, where he is a nationally and locally recognized speaker and thought leader on product liability issues and regulatory trends.

In all of these areas, Paul has established a reputation for outstanding results. He has used motion practice to obtain summary judgment and/or dismissal in more than half of the cases he has defended in Wisconsin...

414-225-2757
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement