PETA has filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority (“Metro”) for refusing to sell advertising space to PETA to promote plant-based diets. Metro based the denial on its noncommercial speech policy, but has sold space to a number of other nonprofit organizations. PETA alleges that Metro’s selectively-applied policy constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination and prior restraint on free speech. PETA is asking the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to rule that Metro’s policy is unconstitutional on its face and as applied and order Metro to grant PETA the same access it has provided to other advocacy organizations and non-profits.
PETA Sues Los Angeles Metro Transit Authority for Access to Advertising Space
Animal Advocacy Organizations Challenge NIH Policy of Blocking Social Media Comments Critical of Animal Experiments
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the Animal Legal Defense Fund have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to stop the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from automatically blocking comments containing keywords associated with viewpoints critical of animal testing on the agencies’ social media pages. The lawsuit alleges that the NIH and HHS Facebook and Instagram pages, which are open for comments from the general public, are public forums and that the agency’s practice is an unconstitutional content-based restriction. Plaintiffs are represented by the Knight 1st Amendment Institute at Columbia University.
Congress Considers Prohibiting State Laws Regulating Manufacture of Agricultural Products
Senate Bill 2619 and House Bill 4999 would prohibit states and local jurisdictions from prohibiting the sale of agricultural products using certain practices if the goods were produced in other jurisdictions. The bill would create a private right of action to challenge any such state prohibitions and would order courts to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent them from taking effect until final judgment is rendered in the challenge. The bill is similar to the King Amendment to the U.S. Farm Bill which targeted state laws banning the sale of products derived from animals raised using forms of extreme confinement, such as battery cages, gestation crates, or veal tethering.
Judge Dismisses Iowa Pork Producers’ Challenge to California Prop 12
A federal judge has dismissed a challenge to California’s Proposition 12 brought by the Iowa Pork Producers Association, finding that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over defendants. The court reasoned that the "quality, quantity, and relationship” of the defendants’ contacts to the plaintiffs’ claims did not support a finding that the California defendants had the contacts necessary to support personal jurisdiction in Iowa. This was the third such dismissed lawsuit brought by producers challenging California’s anti-confinement ballot measure that is due to take effect on January 1, 2022.
10th Circuit Affirms Permanent Injunction of Kansas Ag-Gag Law
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court ruling blocking a Kansas law that banned recording and entering factory farms without the facilities’ owners’ consent. The court reasoned that the relevant sections of the law “concern speech because they include deception as a possible element and are viewpoint discriminatory because they apply only to persons who intend to damage the enterprise of an animal facility.” The case was filed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Food Safety, Shy 38, and Hope Sanctuary and included three dozen additional Amici Curiae.
PETA Files Suit Challenging Refusal to Run Ads on Public Transit Buses
PETA has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a Maryland transportation company’s refusal to run one of the organization’s ads on its buses. The company had denied an application to run PETA’s “No One Needs to Kill to Eat” ads advocating the closure of animal slaughterhouses. The complaint alleges violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Groups Challenge Third Iowa Ag-Gag Law
The Animal Legal Defense Fund, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Bailing out Benji, Food & Water Watch, and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have filed suit challenging elements of Iowa’s third Ag-Gag law passed in 2021 as a violation of the First Amendment––specifically Code § 727.8A that prohibits recording “images or data” while on “trespassed property.”
8th Circuit Restores Challenge to Arkansas Ag-Gag Law
The 8th Circuit has revived a First Amendment challenge to Arkansas’ ag-gag law, finding that plaintiffs Animal Legal Defense Fund, Animal Equality, Center for Biological Diversity, and Food Chain Workers Alliance do have standing under Article III because they reasonably could fear private parties would enforce the law against them. The Court of Appeals rejected an argument made in the dissent that animal advocates would need to start investigating in order to have standing.
Eighth Circuit Affirms Denial of Preliminary Injunction for Missouri Meat Labeling Law
PETA First Amendment Lawsuit Survives Motion to Dismiss
A Texas federal judge has denied Texas A&M’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by PETA alleging the University’s refusal to display ads placed by the nonprofit depicting dogs used in a research lab amounts to a violation of its First Amendment rights.