A federal judge recently struck down a North Carolina “ag-gag” law for violating the First Amendment. US District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder said in his 73-page ruling that certain provisions under the state’s Property Protection Act “fail to pass muster under the First Amendment.” The law—which was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2015—protected farmers by criminalizing undercover investigations on factory farms by punishing unauthorized individuals who film or take photographs on non-public business property with fines of up to $5,000 or jail time. 

A coalition of animal-rights and advocacy organizations—which include People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Center for Food Safety, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, Government Accountability Project, Farm Forward, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals—filed a lawsuit in 2016 challenging the law’s constitutionality, arguing that its provisions prevented them from investigating North Carolina employers engaged in illegal or unethical conduct.  

In recent years, federal courts have also struck down similar ag-gag laws in Kansas, Idaho, Iowa, and Utah for being unconstitutional.

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