The industry-crafted law was "in large part, targeted at speech and investigative journalists," appeals court found.
A federal appeals court on Thursday struck down key provisions of Idaho's ag-gag law—which criminalizes those who secretly document abuse of animals at agricultural facilities—saying they violate the First Amendment.
The ruling, the result of a lawsuit led by Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), was hailed as a victory for animal rights, workers, and free speech.
Regarding the section of the law criminalizing "misrepresentation" to gain access to a facility, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found "the overbreadth ... staggering," adding "that the purpose of the statute was, in large part, targeted at speech and investigative journalists."
Further, the court said "Idaho is singling out for suppression one mode of speech—audio and video recordings of agricultural operations—to keep controversy and suspect practices out of the public eye."
"We are sensitive to journalists' constitutional right to investigate and publish exposés on the agricultural industry. Matters related to food safety and animal cruelty are of significant public importance," the ruling states.