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Ag-Gag: The Unconstitutionality of Laws Restricting Undercover Investigations on Farms

October 2012

Citation: ELR 10960

Author: Lewis Bollard

In March 2012, Iowa and Utah passed “Ag-Gag” laws in response to a series of high-profile undercover investigations of farms by animal activists. The laws were framed as generally applicable fraud prohibitions. But their aim was clear: to stop animal activists exposing the treatment of animals on industrial-scale farms. A constitutional challenge to the laws now seems likely. A court hearing such a challenge should subject the Ag-Gag laws to heightened First Amendment scrutiny under the news gathering framework of Cohen v. Cowles Media Co. The laws cannot survive such scrutiny.

Lewis Bollard is a third-year student at Yale Law School.

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