‘Ag-gag’ law needs to be thrown out

Iowa’s “ag-gag” law should be overturned because it represents an improper erosion of free press rights in this state, a lawyer for the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism says in a new legal brief.

The so-called friend of the court brief was filed this week in U.S. District Court in Des Moines in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa on behalf of a coalition of animal-rights organizations.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to throw out the “ag-gag” law.

Attorney Gary Dickey Jr. of Des Moines, who prepared the brief, wrote, “There can be no meaningful dispute that the happenings inside agricultural production facilities are matters of public concern. … An Iowa farm was at the center of a massive recall of 550 million eggs tainted with salmonella due to deliberate actions buy the company to skirt health regulations.”

The defendants in the lawsuit, Gov. Kim Reynolds, Attorney General Tom Miller and Montgomery County Attorney Bruce Swanson, have not identified anything unique about agricultural production, “other than powerful lobbyists,” that justifies the heightened protections of the ag-gage statute, the court brief states.

A copy of the Iowa FOI Council’s and Iowa Centers brief can be read here: 65-2