Court Strikes Down Law Passed To Protect Farmers In Iowa
Another attempt by lawmakers to criminalize unauthorized surveillance in ag facilities has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.
According to Iowa Capital Dispatch, in her ruling on Monday, US District Judge Stephanie Rose said the laws were unconstitutional because the intent of them is to “[single] out for punishment, at least in part, trespassers based on their disfavored viewpoint of agriculture.”
She added, “The state of Iowa may not single out individuals for special punishment based on their critical viewpoint of agricultural practices.”
This isn’t the first time a federal court has come to this decision.
The first was passed back in 2019 when a judge called the law a violation of the First Amendment. FoodProcessing.org said this ruling was reversed in an appeals court because “accessing private property under false pretenses can be criminalized.”
Then while the first case was going through the appeals process, the Iowa legislature passed another law that would address the constitutional problems the first one had- this is the law that Judge Rose just deemed unconstitutional.
According to ag-gag laws in Iowa, a person can face criminal action for “food operation Trespass” if they enter or remain on the property of a farm without consent.
Back in January, an ag-gag case was dismissed on the eve of its trial.
Criminal charges have been dropped for a man accused of breaking into a Wright County hog operation, placing hidden cameras, and stealing a piglet- just before the case saw a jury trial.
In an article by The Messenger, Matthew Johnson was facing third-degree burglary, electronic eavesdropping, and agricultural production facility trespassing charges and was scheduled to go to trial today.
Johnson and an accomplice, Linda Cridge, entered Iowa Select Farms Hog Site Sow 117 on May 25th between 1 and 3 am without permission. The two placed two cameras giving off live video streams along with an audio recording device within the facility. They also left external battery packs and an internet hotspot.