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Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden

United States District Court, D. Idaho

May 8, 2018

ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
LAWRENCE WASDEN, in his official capacity as Attorney General of Idaho, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          B. LYNN WINMILL CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Declaratory Judgment (Dkt. 140). For the reasons explained below, the Court will deny the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         In February 2014, Idaho enacted a law criminalizing “interference with agricultural production” to protect its farmers. See Idaho Code § 18-7042. Under this statute, a person interferes with agricultural production by knowingly:

(a) entering an agricultural production facility by force, threat, misrepresentation, or trespass if the person is not employed at the facility;
(b) obtaining records of an agricultural production facility by force, threat, misrepresentation or trespass;
(c) obtaining employment with an agricultural production facility by force, threat, misrepresentation, or trespass with the intent to cause economic or other injury to the facility's operations, livestock, crops, owners, personnel, equipment, buildings, premises, business interests or customers; or
(d) entering 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.

         See Idaho Code § 18-7042(1)(a)-(d).

         Shortly after Idaho passed this legislation, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and various other animal rights organizations (collectively, “ALDF”) sued, alleging that the statute violated the Free Speech and Equal Protection clauses of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. This Court agreed; in November 2015, it granted plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment on their First Amendment and Equal Protection claims, concluding that all four challenged subsections of Idaho Code § 18-7042(1) violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

         Idaho appealed, and the Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. See Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Wasden, 878 F.3d 1184 (9th Cir. 2018). The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Court's ruling on subsections (1)(a) and (d), concluding that “Idaho's criminalization of misrepresentations to enter a production facility, § 18-7042(1)(a), and ban on audio and video recordings of a production facility's operations, § 18-7042(1)(d), cover protected speech under the First Amendment and cannot survive constitutional scrutiny.” Id. at 1190. But the Ninth Circuit reversed on subsections (1)(b) and (c), stating that in accordance with United States v. Alvarez, 567 U.S. 709 (2012), “Idaho's criminalization of misrepresentations to obtain records and secure employment are not protected speech under the First Amendment and do not violate the Equal Protection Clause.” Id. The Ninth Circuit instructed this Court to modify its permanent injunction accordingly. Id. at 1205.

         Plaintiffs, however, say that this Court should not just modify its permanent injunction. They ask the Court to also enter a separate declaratory judgment clarifying the Ninth Circuit's ruling on subsection (1)(c). Subsection (1)(c) deals with making misrepresentations to get a job, and plaintiffs say their undercover investigators make misrepresentations when applying for jobs at agricultural production facilities. For example, they might falsely deny affiliations with animal rights groups or deny having a degree in journalism.

         Plaintiffs ask the Court to issue a blanket declaration that Idaho Code § 18-7042(1)(c), as interpreted by the Ninth Circuit, “does not apply to the employment-based undercover investigations that Plaintiffs undertake.” Motion Mem., Dkt. 14-1, at 5. Alternatively, plaintiffs ask the Court to issue a declaratory ...


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