Wyoming lawmakers adopted legislation in 2015 making it illegal to gather data on open lands for the purpose of reporting harmful farming practices, environmental degradation, or other ills. That includes performing water quality tests or taking photographs. Fearing constitutional concerns, the state legislature amended the law last year to say virtually the same thing but with a caveat: it’s illegal to do such gathering if the observer does it from private property or had to cross private property first before entering public lands to do their investigation.
And a federal judge bought it and said there was nothing unconstitutional about the ag-gag law because, you know, trespassing is an illegal act.
Conservation and animal rights groups took the decision to a federal appeals court. Days ago, the appeals court put that lower court’s decision on life support. The 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the ordinance stifles speech, particularly speech necessary for public discourse about environmental and animal safety regulations.