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Federal appeals court hits Wyoming ‘Ag-Gag law’ on First Amendment grounds

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “Ag-Gag law” that imposed criminal penalties on those who “trespass unlawfully to collect resource data” without a landowner’s permission violated the First Amendment. The court concluded that the law was intended to limit collection of information on public lands and found that activity protected speech. (K2 Radio, September 8, 2017, by Nick Learned)

The court recognized that the Wyoming law kept investigators out of the field in fear they might stray accidentally from public into private land in violation of the law. (WTOP, September 7, 2017, by The Associated Press)

The law prevented environmentalists from gathering data and taking photos on public land to document illegal pollution and abuse of animals. A lawyer for one of the litigants, the National Resources Defense Council, September 7, 2017, said, “The Wyoming statute tried to cut science and freedom of speech out of government decision-making. In this moment where science and the free press are under attack, the federal court upheld the essential role of public participation and free speech in our democracy.”

 

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