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Animal welfare groups file lawsuit against state of Iowa

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Hastert

AUDIO: Matthew Liebman, Animal Legal Defense Fund

AUDIO: Kristine Tidgren, ISU Center for Ag Law and Taxation

A coalition of animal activist groups filed a lawsuit in Iowa Tuesday challenging one the state’s agriculture laws.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund along with several others filed a lawsuit questioning the constitutionality of Iowa’s Agricultural Production Facility Fraud law.

The law prevents people from gaining access to agricultural production facilities by false pretenses.

Mattew Liebman is director of litigation for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. He says law violates the First Amendment.

“None of these investigations can take place without that kind of false pretense. If someone applied for the position, (disclosing they worked for) the Animal Legal Defense Fund, they are not going to get that job so the investigation will not take place,” Liebman says.

Kristine Tidgren is assistant director at the Center for Ag Law and Taxation at Iowa State University.

“Defendants will have to argue is that the lies that get people inside these animal production facilities caused legally cognizable harm. If they can show that, the speech at issue here under the Iowa statute would fall outside of free speech protection,” Tidgren says.

Other groups part of the coalition include: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Iowa, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Iowa Citizens for Community Involvement and the Center for Food Safety and Public Justice.

Federal courts have pending decisions on so-called “Ag-Gag” laws in Idaho and Utah as unconstitutional.

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