District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill has ruled that Idaho's new "ag-gag" law is unconstitutional. All I can say is -- thank God we have at least one
courageous and humane federal judge, though hopefully there will be others.
Mother Jones' Tom Philpot wrote about this on August 4, 2015. Included
with his post is a video labeled "Burger King Cruelty--Video Exposes Horrific Animal
Abuse." I did not run the video because I already knew what I would see, and sadly the
first frame was enough for me. It showed a worker punching a cow in the face. I could
only think -- what a cruel, cowardly man to strike an innocent cow who couldn't defend
herself because she was boxed in. But he really deserves a payback from her -- perhaps a
small kick where it would do the most good and which would make him reflect on the meaning
of inflicting pain on others.
This video captured by MFA undercover investigators and released in 2012
depicts a disturbing scene inside this large Idaho dairy facility. Per Philpot, workers are
taped committing various acts of violence against cows -- "kicking and punching them, beating them
with rods, twisting their tails, and, most graphically wrapping a chain around the neck of a
downed cow and dragging HER (Philpot uses the pronoun "it" --animals are not things) with a
Though the dairy promptly fired five workers in the aftermath of
unfavorable publicity, Judge Winmill wrote that the Idaho Dairymen's association "responded to the
negative publicity by drafting and sponsoring a bill that criminalizes the types of undercover
investigations that exposed the (violent) activities.''
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Known as Ag-Gag legislation -- it not surprisingly sailed through the Idaho
legislature and became a law in 2014. On August 4, 2015, Dan Flynn of Food Safety News
wrote that U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that Idaho's new "ag-gag" law is
unconstitutional. Seven other states have Ag-Gag laws -but Idaho's ag-gag statute is the
first to be struck down by a federal court judge.
Judge Winmill took 97 days to write his 28-page decision after hearing oral
arguments in the case last April 28. He believed the case had merit earlier when he had
ruled against Idaho's motion to dismiss the case brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.
In his decision, Judge Winmill made it clear that he had listened to the
entire "ag-gag" debate in the Idaho legislature. He recalled that a state senator compared animal-rights investigators to "marauding invaders centuries ago who swarmed into foreign territory and
destroyed crops to starve foes into submission." The same senator called Mercy for
Animals-like investigations terrorism whose purpose was "to destroy the ability to produce food and
confidence in the food's safety."
Dave Flynn's article reveals much more about this special judge's 28-page
opinion on the ag-gag law that he declared unconstitutional. It is interesting and Flynn does a good
job in explaining the judge's legal rationale for his decision in this regard. Please look up his post
on Food Safety News if this interests you. I was also glad to read that the judge had probably been
influenced by the Animal Legal Defense lawyers who use their law backgrounds to work for animals.