Iowa Ag-Gag II (ALDF v. Reynolds)

Iowa Ag-Gag II (ALDF v. Reynolds)

Iowa’s second effort to prevent journalists or activists from entering livestock facilities under false pretenses to report on animal abuse was passed and signed into law just two months after U.S. District Judge James Gritzner ruled that Iowa’s law passed in 2012 violated the First Amendment. As with the previous Ag-Gag law, the new Ag-Gag law criminalizes undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses, the only difference being the law targets a slightly different form of speech that is integral to those investigations. The revised Ag-Gag law criminalizes using “deception” to gain access to or employment at an agricultural production facility “with the intent to cause physical or economic harm or other injury to the agricultural production facility,” such as by exposing unethical conduct that leads to boycotts.

Serving as co-counsel in this case, we argued that this law penalizes and thereby chills First Amendment-protected activities based on the content of speech and is therefore unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa sided with our clients, and held that Iowa’s second Ag-Gag law violates the First Amendment. In January, 2024, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed the district court, reviving the law. The Eighth Circuit’s ruling stated its outcome conflicts with holdings by the 7th and 10th Circuits on similar Ag-Gag laws.

District Court No. 19 cv 00124 JEG HCA

To learn more about FarmSTAND’s work on ag-gag laws in other states, see our page on Ag-Gag Litigation.


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