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AG Derek Schmidt asks U.S. Supreme Court to uphold agriculture trespass law

Release Date: Nov 17, 2021

TOPEKA – (November 17, 2021) – A Kansas law that protects agricultural property rights is constitutional and does not conflict with the First Amendment, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has told the U.S. Supreme Court.

The attorney general today filed a petition for writ of certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an August ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. That court held that a Kansas statute providing for enhanced criminal penalties when a person obtains access to an animal facility by deception and with the intent to cause harm violates the First Amendment rights of trespassers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has upheld a similar Iowa law, creating a split of opinions among federal appeals courts.

“Kansas enacted this law to add an additional layer of protection regarding unauthorized access to agricultural facilities, and to help improve security measures against those who seek to disrupt the food supply,” Schmidt said. “Animal agriculture is vitally important to our state's economic well-being. We are hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will recognize the need to provide clarity on this subject and afford Kansas agriculture producers protections available in our sister states.”

The 10th Circuit decision striking down the Kansas statute was 2-1. The dissenting judge would have upheld the statute and concluded it does not violate the First Amendment.

The case is Kelly v. Animal Legal Defense Fund. A copy of the petition filed today is available at https://bit.ly/3cnD2yw.

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