Victory: North Carolina Ag-Gag Law Struck Down as Unconstitutional
This past Friday, more than four years after the ASPCA joined the coalition of organizations challenging North Carolina’s ag-gag law designed to silence whistleblowers, the Middle District Court of North Carolina struck down the law as unconstitutional. The court found that the law, which prohibited employees from taking photos or video at work that might expose improper or criminal conduct by their employers, violated First Amendment free speech rights.
This laudable decision comes after a difficult and prolonged fight to defeat the law. When it came before the North Carolina legislature in 2015, animal advocates made their voices heard and then-Governor McCrory ultimately vetoed the bill—only to have the North Carolina House and Senate overturn the veto, ignoring the public will in favor of protecting factory farms from scrutiny.
North Carolina is now the fifth state to have an ag-gag law ruled unconstitutional, further cementing the critical role undercover investigations and whistleblowers play in protecting animal welfare, worker safety and public health. Studies show that consumers are concerned about the welfare of farm animals, due in part to undercover videos showing horrific conditions and abuse of animals on factory farms. Big Ag should focus on shifting to more humane farming systems instead of seeking to punish those who expose the cruelty currently happening on farms.
While higher-welfare farmers across the country increasingly invite people onto their farms to showcase their animal husbandry, factory farms continue to shut the public out in an attempt to hide their inhumane systems from view.
The ASPCA is proud to have been a part of this lawsuit and applauds the court’s decision, which is a huge victory for farm animals and the fight to create a more humane, transparent food system. Ag-gag laws are unconstitutional and have no place in our society. Help us continue to defeat ag-gag laws by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.