Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Reynolds, No. 19-1364 (8th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging Iowa Code Sec. 717A.3A(1)(a)-(b), which makes it a crime for a person to gain access to an agricultural production facility by false pretenses and to make false statements on an employment application to such a facility, on First Amendment grounds. The district court ruled that both provisions were unconstitutional and enjoined their enforcement.
The Eighth Circuit concluded that the provisions providing that a person is guilty of agricultural production facility fraud if they obtain access to the facility by false pretenses is consistent with the First Amendment because it prohibits exclusively lies associated with a legally cognizable harm - namely trespass to private property. The court explained that the proscription of the Employment Provision does not require that false statements made as part of an employment application be material to the employment decision. Therefore, the statute is not limited to false claims that are made "to effect" an offer of employment; it allows for prosecution of those who make false statements that are not capable of influencing an offer of employment. The court concluded that, given the breadth of the Employment Provision, it proscribes speech that is protected by the First Amendment and does not satisfy strict scrutiny. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part, vacating the injunction against enforcement of the access provision.