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Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Idaho

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20005
Nos. 15-35960, (9th Cir., 01/04/2018)

The Ninth Circuit held that portions of Idaho’s Agricultural Security Act violate the First Amendment. The law, enacted after a secretly-filmed expose of operations at an Idaho dairy farm went live on the internet, broadly criminalizes making misrepresentations to access an agricultural production facility or making audio and video recordings of a facility without the owner’s consent. Animal activists filed suit, claiming that the law criminalized investigative journalism and employment-based undercover investigations and violates the First Amendment. Idaho argued that the “misrepresentation” component regulates conduct induced by false statements of fact and that the act of creating an audiovisual recording is not speech protected by the First Amendment. The court held that that Idaho’s criminalization of misrepresentations was overbroad, and that the purpose of the statute was, in large part, targeted at speech and investigative journalists. The panel further held that the law’s recordings clause regulated speech protected by the First Amendment and was a classic example of a content-based restriction.