Last year, North Carolina enacted an “Ag-gag” bill aimed to silence whistle-blowers across the state. The bill creates criminal penalties that make it nearly impossible for citizens to legally gather evidence of workplace wrongdoing. It applies with sweeping breadth, preventing whistle-blowers from exposing abuses at all workplaces across the state, including agricultural facilities, nursing homes, day care centers, and veterans’ facilities.
Groups including the Center for Food Safety and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals challenged the bill as unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Today, Patterson Harkavy filed an amicus brief on behalf of law professors Erwin Chemerinsky and Jack Preis in support of the challengers’ position. Chemerinsky and Preis are two of the nation’s top scholars in Constitutional Law and Federal Procedure.
The State has argued that the challenge to the Ag-gag bill fails because the plaintiffs should have sued different state actors. In their brief, Chemerinsky and Preis assert that this argument is inconsistent with the doctrines of standing, sovereign immunity, and the “special relationship” test on which the State relies. The brief explores the interplay between these three doctrines by viewing their development over time.
North Carolina’s controversial Ag-gag bill has been covered in The New York Times, the The News & Observer, and ThinkProgress. Click here to view Patterson Harkavy’s brief on behalf of Chemerinsky and Preis.