A United States District Court in Kansas recently struck down nearly all of Kansas’ longstanding “ag-gag” law for violating the First Amendment. The oldest such law in the US, Kansas’ legislation restricted free speech by banning undercover investigations at factory farms and slaughterhouses for nearly three decades. In December 2018, a coalition of animal-rights groups—which includes the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), Center for Food Safety, and two Kansas-area animal protection organizations—filed a lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality. The recent court decision denied Kansas’ motion to have the case thrown out and granted most of the coalition’s motion for summary judgment, thus barring the state from enforcing the ag-gag law. The decision left intact only portions of the law that criminalize causing physical damage to animals and facilities, and the civil remedy for violations. “For 30 years, Kansas lawmakers have suppressed whistleblowers from investigating cruel conditions on factory farms with this unconstitutional law,” Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells said. “[This] decision is a victory for the millions of animals raised for meat on factory farms.” In recent years, federal courts have also struck down similar ag-gag laws in Idaho, Iowa, and Utah for being unconstitutional.
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