Attorney General Finds Ag Gag Bill ‘Constitutionally Suspect’

Tennessee's ag gag bill is the first of its kind, so the state's attorney general references related cases, like some on witnessing child abuse. Credit: Numats/Flickr

Tennessee’s ag gag bill is the first of its kind, so the state’s attorney general references related cases, like some on witnessing child abuse. Credit: Numats/Flickr

The Tennessee Attorney General lists a number of problems with the bill dubbed the “ag gag” bill by opponents. In an opinion released Thursday, he calls the legislation requiring activists to turn over footage of livestock cruelty “constitutionally suspect.”

The bill may run afoul of the First Amendment’s freedom of speech in several different ways, according to the opinion. It only requires a certain group to turn over their video – people who intentionally tried to get it on tape. It also may be an “unconstitutional burden” on reporters if they are also forced to comply.

Attorney General Bob Cooper also cites a potential problem with the Fifth Amendment, which protects people from incriminating themselves. The 10-page document (op13-39) calls the bill “unclear” and generally makes a case against it becoming law.

Governor Bill Haslam has been waiting on the opinion before deciding whether to veto or sign the legislation. It also could become law without his signature.

 

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