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Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Otter

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 3, 2015

ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
C.L. BUTCH OTTER, in his official capacity as Governor of Idaho; and LAWRENCE WASDEN, in his official capacity as State of Idaho, Defendants

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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For Animal Legal Defense Fund, Plaintiff: Justin F Marceau, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, CO; Maria E Andrade, LEAD ATTORNEY, ANDRADE LEGAL, INC, Boise, ID; Matthew G Liebman, PRO HAC VICE, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Cotati, CA; Matthew Daniel Strugar, PRO HAC VICE, Los Angeles, CA; Richard Alan Eppink, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho Foundation, Boise, ID.

For People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, Farm Sanctuary, River's Wish Animal Sanctuary, Western Watersheds Project, Sandpoint Vegetarians, Idaho Concerned Area Residents for the Environment, Idaho Hispanic Caucus Institute for Research and Education, Counterpunch, Farm Forward, Will Potter, James McWilliams, Monte Hickman, Blair Koch, Daniel Hauff, Plaintiffs: Maria E Andrade, LEAD ATTORNEY, ANDRADE LEGAL, INC, Boise, ID; Matthew Daniel Strugar, PRO HAC VICE, Los Angeles, CA; Richard Alan Eppink, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho Foundation, Boise, ID.

For The Center for Food Safety, Plaintiff: Maria E Andrade, LEAD ATTORNEY, ANDRADE LEGAL, INC, Boise, ID; Leslie Brueckner, PRO HAC VICE, Public Justice, P.C., Oakland, CA; Matthew Daniel Strugar, PRO HAC VICE, Los Angeles, CA; Paige M Tomaselli, PRO HAC VICE, Center for Food Safety, San Francisco, CA; Richard Alan Eppink, American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho Foundation, Boise, ID.

For C.L. Butch Otter, in his official capacity as Governor of Idaho, Defendant: Thomas C. Perry, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Governor, Boise, ID; Cally Ann Younger, Governor's Office, Boise, ID.

For Lawrence Wasden, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Idaho, Defendant: Clay R Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL, Boise, ID; Carl J Withroe, Idaho Attorney General, Boise, ID.

For Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Amicus: Charles A Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, Lewiston, ID; Bruce D Brown, PRO HAC VICE, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Arlington, VA.

For Government Accountability Project, Amicus: Craig Durham, LEAD ATTORNEY, Durham Law Office, PLLC, Boise, ID; Jeffery S Gulley, PRO HAC VICE, Government Accountability Project, Washington, DC.

For Idaho Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, Amicus: James Marshall Piotrowski, LEAD ATTORNEY, HERZFELD & PIOTROWSKI, Boise, ID; Marty Durand, Herzfeld & Piotrowski, LLP, Boise, ID.

For Idaho Farm Bureau Federation, Inc., Idaho Heartland Coalition, Inc., Food Producers of Idaho, Inc., Idaho Cattle Association, Amicuses: Norman M Semanko, Moffatt Thomas Barrett Rock & Fields, Chtd., Boise, ID.

For Center for Constitutional Rights, Amicus: Michael J Bartlett, LEAD ATTORNEY, Nevin, Benjamin, McKay & Bartlett LLP, Boise, ID; Rachel Meeropol, PRO HAC VICE, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, NY.

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MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

B. Lynn Winmill, Chief United States District Judge.

INTRODUCTION

Last year, Mercy for Animals, a Los Angeles-based animal rights' group, released a video of workers using a moving tractor to drag a cow on the floor by a chain attached to her neck and workers repeatedly beating, kicking, and jumping on cows. Pls.' SOF ¶ 1. The video was recorded at the Bettencourt Dairies' Dry Creek Dairy in Hansen, Idaho. Id. Mercy for Animals secretly captured the abuse while conducting an undercover investigation of the dairy. Naerebout Aff. ¶ 7, Dkt. 16-2. The video drew national attention. Id. ¶ 2.

The Idaho Dairymen's Association, a trade industry organization that represents every dairy farmer and producer in the state, responded to the negative publicity by drafting and sponsoring a bill that became Idaho Code § 18-7042. The bill proposed criminalizing the types of undercover investigations that exposed the activities at the Dry Creek Dairy.

According to the bill's supporters, the Mercy for Animals investigator who made the video at the Dry Creek Dairy " failed to immediately report [the abuse] to the dairy operator or to local or state authorities . . . , allowing additional animal abuse to occur and depriving the animals of immediate care and treatment." Naerebout Aff. ¶ 10, Dkt. 16-2. The investigator instead gave his recordings to Mercy for Animals, which " provided edited recordings to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (" ISDA" )." Id. The ISDA immediately investigated and informed the dairy owner of the abuse. After the ISDA finished its investigation, Mercy for Animals published the video and urged at least one of the dairy owner's customers to stop buying milk products supplied by the dairy owner. Id.

After the outcry the Mercy for Animals' publicized video produced in the dairy industry, the Idaho legislature passed the bill quickly. It was signed by Governor Otter on February 14, 2014, and it was eventually codified as Idaho Code § 18-7042. Pls.' SOF ¶ 6, Dkt. 75.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund, as well as various other organizations and individuals, (collectively, " ALDF" ), challenge Idaho Code § 18-7042 as unconstitutional. ALDF alleges that § 18-7042 has both the purpose and effect of stifling public debate about modern agriculture " by (1) criminalizing all employment-based undercover investigations; and (2) criminalizing investigative journalism, whistleblowing by employees, or other expository efforts that entail images or sounds." Compl. ¶ 14, Dkt. 1. Based on these allegations, ALDF's complaint raises two substantive constitutional challenges against

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the State--violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment--as well as preemption claims under three different federal statutes. Id. ¶ ¶ 144-68.

ALDF moves for summary judgment on their First Amendment and Equal Protection Clause claims--their first, second, and fourth causes of action (Dkt. 74). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will grant ALDF's motion.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF DECISION

Idaho Code § 18-7042 creates the new crime, " interference with agricultural production." I.C. 18-7042. A person commits the crime of interference with agricultural production if the person knowingly:

(a) is not employed by an agricultural production facility and enters an agricultural production facility by force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass;
(b) obtains records of an agricultural production facility by force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass;
(c) obtains employment with an agricultural production facility by force, threat, or misrepresentation with the intent to cause economic or other injury to the facility's operations . . .
(d) Enters an agricultural production facility that is not open to the public and, without the facility owner's express consent or pursuant to judicial process or statutory authorization, makes audio or video recordings of the conduct of an agricultural production facility's operations; or
(e) Intentionally causes physical damage or injury to the agricultural production facility's operations, livestock, crops, personnel, equipment, buildings or premises.

I.C. § 18-7042(1)(a)-(e).

In passing § 18-7042, Idaho legislators described the concerns they believe the types of undercover investigations criminalized by the statute pose to the agricultural industry in Idaho. One senator compared animal rights investigators to " marauding invaders centuries ago who swarmed into foreign territory and destroyed crops to starve foes into submission." Pls.' SOF ¶ 8, Dkt. 75. During a committee hearing, the same senator compared undercover investigations to " terrorism, [which] has been used by enemies for centuries to destroy the ability to produce food and the confidence in the food's safety." Senator Patrick, Wall Decl., Ex. A, p. 81, lns. 1-8. Defending the legislation, this senator also said, " This is the way you combat your enemies." Senator Patrick, Wall Decl., Ex. A, p. 81, lns. 7-8.

Members of the House of Representatives similarly stated that their support for the bill stemmed from a need to protect members of the dairy industry from undercover investigators. One representative described undercover investigators as " extreme activists who want to contrive issues simply to bring in the donations." Representative Bateman, Wall Decl., Ex. D, p. 4, lns. 5-7. Another representative accused animal rights activists of taking the dairy industry hostage and ...


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