SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Animal welfare activists, including PETA, filed a lawsuit Monday challenging the constitutionality of Utah’s “Ag-Gag” law.
It is a misdemeanor to trespass on private property to take photos or film agricultural operations, under the current law.
Amy Meyer, animal rights activist, said the bill violates the first amendment.
“It seeks to penalize undercover investigators who are just exposing abuses on factory farms and is a serious threat to journalists who are reporting on the agriculture industries,” Meyer said.
Meyer, 25, was the first person charged under the Ag-Gag law for filming what she called animal abuse at a Draper meat-packing plant. She was among the activists who filed the lawsuit.
The charges were dismissed because Meyer was filming from a public street.
Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, is the sponsor of the Ag-Gag bill. He said state inspectors should determine if animals are being abused, not animal rights activists.
The issue, the senator said, is not about animals but about property rights.
“Why is it that all of a sudden these vigilantes have the right to come onto my property and film anything they want?” Hinkins asked. “I’ll tell you what, in most places, they’d get shot.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court. The Animal Legal Defense Fund was also on the lawsuit.