Lawsuit calls Arkansas “ag-gag” law unconstitutional
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.”