Law­suit calls Arkansas “ag-gag” law un­con­sti­tu­tional

The Saline Courier - - NEWS -

LIT­TLE ROCK — A le­gal ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tion has filed a law­suit in fed­eral court chal­leng­ing an Arkansas state law that farm or­ga­ni­za­tions have used to shield them­selves from un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tions by an­i­mal rights groups.

Lawyers for the An­i­mal Le­gal De­fense Fund and other an­i­mal rights or­ga­ni­za­tions filed the suit Tues­day against state Rep. Deann Vaught and her hus­band, who own a pig farm, and Peco Foods, an Alabama-based poul­try farm with Arkansas fa­cil­i­ties.

The suit ar­gues that the 2017 law, which was spon­sored by Vaught and bars un­der­cover in­ves­ti­ga­tions at pri­vate busi­nesses like large farms, vi­o­lates the First Amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion by ban­ning a form of speech.

The or­ga­ni­za­tions are su­ing the Vaughts’ farm and Peco be­cause the leg­is­la­tion does not al­low state agen­cies to en­force the law.

David Muraskin, Se­nior At­tor­ney at Public Jus­tice, which is rep­re­sent­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tions su­ing, said his clients asked the Vaughts’ farm and Peco Foods to waive their rights un­der the law, which would have al­lowed in­ves­ti­ga­tions. By not do­ing so, the or­ga­ni­za­tions have rea­son­able be­lief they’d be tar­geted by the law, Muraskin said, which gives them claim to sue.

Muraskin said the two par­ties named in the suit are busi­nesses the an­i­mal rights or­ga­ni­za­tions “want to in­ves­ti­gate and have spe­cific plans to in­ves­ti­gate and the law is the thing stand­ing in the way of them do­ing so, be­cause they are afraid of these penal­ties.”

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