On April 19, the Alliance joined a brief, filed in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, that argues Iowa Code 727.8A is a violation of the First Amendment by criminalizing any person “knowingly plac[ing] or us[ing] a camera or electronic surveillance device that transmits or records images or data while the device is on the trespassed property.” In ALDF v. Reynolds, the animal rights group (ALDF) argued that the law violates their First Amendment rights to take photos or record film/audio at privately-owned agricultural facilities. In response, the government argued the law regulates conduct, not speech. The district court granted summary judgement for ALDF. The brief, filed by RCFP, argues that the district court was correct in finding that the law regulates speech in addition to conduct. The brief highlights how this law, commonly referred to as an “ag-gag” law, is an attempt to criminalize the investigations into conditions at agricultural facilities by chilling journalism that has previously brought about positive changes in the industry, including legislation to improve workplace safety, food safety, and animal welfare. This case seeks to protect sources and journalists from potential criminal liability for reporting on matters of public concern. Read more.
Charlotte McBirney is Senior Counsel and Director, Public Policy for the News/Media Alliance.