Federal

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Titlesort ascending Summary
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Animal Advocacy Organizations argued the district court erred in ruling United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s decision to renew an exhibitor’s license did not violate the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). According to the organizations, the USDA may not renew a license when USDA knows an exhibitor is noncompliant with any animal welfare standards on the anniversary of the day USDA originally issued the license. The 11th Circuit, however, found it had subject matter jurisdiction to review the organizations' challenge to the renewal under the Administrative Procedure Act, and that the USDA's interpretation—which did not condition renewal on compliance with animal welfare standards on the anniversary of the license issuance date—was a reasonable one. The district court’s decision was therefore affirmed.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture


The matter before the court concerns Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings with respect to subject-matter jurisdiction. Plaintiffs (ALDF and others) petitioned the USDA and FSIS to promulgate regulations condemning force-fed foie gras as an adulterated food product under the Poultry Products Inspection Act (“PPIA”). FSIS refused to do so, concluding that foie gras was not adulterated or diseased; Plaintiffs then filed the instant lawsuit claiming that decision was arbitrary, capricious, and in violation of the APA. The Court determined that the instant action is not about promulgating rules, but about banning force-fed foie gras. Such a decision falls under the USDA's discretion by law.

Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Reynolds In 2012, Iowa passed a statute (Iowa code § 717A.3A) that criminalized gaining access to agricultural facilities under false pretenses and making a false representation on a job application for those facilities. Plaintiffs in this case (animal rights groups including the Animal Legal Defense Fund and PETA) brought suit alleging that the statute was unconstitutional and sought to enjoin the Defendants (governor of Iowa) from enforcing it. Their complaint alleged that the statute violates the First Amendment as discrimination on the basis of content, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by targeting animals rights groups, and violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by burdening the freedom of speech. This case decides the Defendants’ motion to dismiss the Plaintiffs’ complaint based on lack of standing and failure to state a claim because the outlawed conduct is not protected by the First Amendment as false statements and is rationally related to the legitimate government interest of protecting private property, thereby not violating the Fourteenth Amendment. The court denies Defendants' motion with respect to the First Amendment, concluding that Plaintiffs have plausibly alleged the intent to suppress their message because of their viewpoint. However, the court grants the motion to dismiss for the claim of a Fourteenth Amendment violation because the statute in fact serves a legitimate government purpose in protecting private property.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Otter In a ‘hold your tongue and challenge now’ First Amendment challenge to an Idaho statute that criminalizes undercover investigations and videography at “agricultural production facilities,” the Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as various other organizations and individuals, (collectively, “ALDF”), brought suit. The State defendants, Governor Butch Otter and Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, moved to dismiss the ALDF's claims. The claims against the Governor were dismissed under 11th Amendment immunity because the ALDF failed to explain the requisite connection between the Governor and enforcement of section 18–7024. The court also found that since the ALDF failed to allege a concrete plan to violate subsection (e), it lacked standing to challenge section 18–7042(1)(e) and the claim in regards to that provision was therefore dismissed. However, the ALDF’s First Amendment, bare animus Equal Protection, and preemption claims survived the motion to dismiss.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert This case deals with the constitutionality of Utah's "ag gag" law, enacted in 2012. The law criminalizes lying to obtain access to an agricultural operation and the subsequent recording or filming once inside. According to statements made enactment, it is directed at undercover operations that investigate farm animal abuse. Plaintiffs assert that the law violates their First Amendment rights. On review of motions, the court first looked at whether the First Amendment applies to this type of "lying." Because a recent U.S. Supreme Court case makes lying that causes "cognizable legal harm" outside the protection of the First Amendment, the court examined the type of lying at issue in the Utah law. Ultimately, the court found that lying to gain access to these agricultural facilities does not in itself cause a legally cognizable harm. Thus, "absent an additional showing of harm, under either interpretation, at least some of the lies criminalized by the Act retain First Amendment protection." With regard to First Amendment protections for the act of recording once at an agricultural operation and whether a strict scrutiny standard applies, the court looked to other circuits that found the act of making speech (i.e., recording/filming) is protected. The State countered with the fact that such recording occurs on private property, but the court found the government cannot place criminal restrictions on speech simply because it occurs on private property. The court noted that the property owner can indeed remove the person from the property and sue for any damages resulting from the trespass, which is different than prosecution by the state to curtail speech. Finally, after finding that the act impinges protected speech, the court then analyzed whether it withstood a strict scrutiny review. The State proffered government interests that include concerns over worker protection and disease outbreak. However, the court noted nothing in the legislative history on these claims or any actual incidents that supported these asserted government interests. The court found the Act did not survive strict scrutiny as it was not narrowly tailored and instead was directed at the content of the speech (the act of recording a facility). The Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment was granted and the State's Motion for Summary Judgment was denied.
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert
Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Herbert
Animal Legal Defense Fund Boston, Inc. v. Provimi Veal Corp.


District Court found that federal law preempts Massachusetts's consumer protection statute that requires retailers to inform consumers of relevant information, the disclosure of which may have influenced the buyer or prospective buyer not to enter into the transaction. The District Court also held that the Animal Legal Defense Fund could not enforce a cruelty to animals claim because it involves criminal statutes that only public prosecutors and legislatively-sanctioned groups may enforce.

Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Wasden In 2012, an animal rights activist went undercover to get a job at an Idaho dairy farm and then secretly filmed ongoing animal abuse there. Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group, publicly released portions of the video, drawing national attention. The dairy farm owner responded to the video by firing the abusive employees who were caught on camera, instituting operational protocols, and conducting an animal welfare audit at the farm. Local law enforcement authorities launched an investigation that culminated in the conviction of one of the employees for animal cruelty. After the video's release, the dairy farm owner and his family received multiple threats. In 2012, an animal rights activist went undercover to get a job at an Idaho dairy farm and then secretly filmed ongoing animal abuse there. Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group, publicly released portions of the video, drawing national attention. The dairy farm owner responded to the video by firing the abusive employees who were caught on camera, instituting operational protocols, and conducting an animal welfare audit at the farm. Local law enforcement authorities launched an investigation that culminated in the conviction of one of the employees for animal cruelty. After the video's release, the dairy farm owner and his family received multiple threats. Animal rights advocacy organization brought action against the Governor and Attorney General of Idaho, challenging statute that criminalized interference with agricultural production facilities as violative of the First Amendment's free speech protections, violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and preempted by federal law. The United States District Court for the District of Idaho entered summary judgment in favor of organization and granted organization's motion to permanently enjoin enforcement of the statute. The court held that 1) Idaho statute criminalizing entry into an agricultural production facility by misrepresentation violated First Amendment; 2) Idaho statute criminalizing obtaining records of an agricultural production facility by misrepresentation did not violate First Amendment; 3) Idaho statute criminalizing obtaining records of an agricultural production facility by misrepresentation did not violate Equal Protection Clause; 4) Idaho statute criminalizing obtaining employment with an agricultural production facility by misrepresentation with the intent to cause economic or other injury to the facility's operations, property, or personnel, did not violate First Amendment; 5) Idaho statute criminalizing obtaining employment with an agricultural production facility by misrepresentation with the intent to cause economic or other injury to the facility's operations, property, or personnel did not violate Equal Protection Clause; and 6) Idaho statute prohibiting a person from entering a private agricultural production facility and, without express consent from the facility owner, making audio or video recordings of the conduct of an agricultural production facility's operations violated First Amendment. Affirmed in part; reversed in part.
Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Otter The Animal Legal Defense Fund, and various other organizations and individuals, challenge Idaho Code § 18–7042 as unconstitutional. Section 18-7042 criminalizes undercover investigations of agricultural production facilities. ALDF alleges that § 18–7042 has both the purpose and effect of stifling public debate about modern agriculture and raises two substantive constitutional challenges against the State: (1) violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment; and (2) violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court first found that § 18–7042 is both content and viewpoint based, and thus, must survive the highest level of scrutiny. The Court held that the law does not survive strict scrutiny because it "would contravene strong First Amendment values to say the State has a compelling interest in affording these heavily regulated facilities extra protection from public scrutiny." Even if the interests in property and privacy of these industries is compelling, the law is not narrowly tailored as it restricts more speech than necessary and poses a "particularly serious threat to whistleblowers' free speech rights." Finally, the Court found that the law also violated the Equal Protection clause because the law was spurred by an improper animus toward animal welfare groups, furthers no legitimate or rational purpose, and classifies activities protected by the First Amendment based on content. ALDF's motion for summary judgment was granted.

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