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A Judge of Compassion

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Message Suzana Megles
U.S. 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 tractor."
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.''
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.

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I have been concerned about animal suffering ever since
I received my first puppy Peaches in 1975. She made me take a good look at the animal kingdom and I was shocked to see how badly we treat so many animals. At 77, I've been a vegan for the (more...)
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