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A Judge of Compassion

Story ID:10635
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Boise Idaho usa
Person:Judge B, Lynn Winmill
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U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill has ruled that Idaho’s new “ag-gag” law is
unconstitutional. All I can say is- thank God we have at least one courageous and
humane federal judge, though hopefully there will be others.

Mother Jones’ Tom Philpot wrote about this on August 4, 2015. Included with his post
is a video labeled –“Burger King Cruelty –Video Exposes Horrific Animal Abuse.” I did
not run the video because I already knew what I would see, and sadly the first frame
was enough for me. It showed a worker punching a cow in the face. I could only think –
what a cruel, cowardly man to strike an innocent cow who couldn’t defend herself because
she was boxed in. But he really deserves a payback from her – perhaps a small kick where
it would do the most good and which would make him reflect on the meaning of inflicting
pain on others.

This video captured by MFA undercover investigators and released in 2012 depicts a disturbing
scene inside this large Idaho dairy facility. Per Philpot- workers are taped committing various
acts of violence against cows –“ kicking and punching them, beating them with rods, twisting
their tails, and, most graphically wrapping a chain around the neck of a downed cow and
dragging HER (Philpot uses the pronoun “it” –animals are not things) with a tractor.”

Though the dairy promptly fired five workers in the aftermath of unfavorable publicity, Judge
Winmill wrote that the Idaho Dairymen’s association “ responded to the negative publicity
by drafting and sponsoring a bill that criminalizes the types of undercover investigations
that exposed the (violent) activities.’’

Known as Ag Gag legislation – it not surprisingly sailed through the Idaho legislature and
became a law in 2014. On August 4, 2015 Dan Flynn of Food Safety News wrote that U.S.
District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled that Idaho’s new “ag-gag” law is unconstitutional.
Seven other states have Ag Gag laws -but Idaho’s ag-gag statute is the first to be struck down
by a federal court judge.

Judge Winmill took 97 days to write his 28-page decision after hearing oral arguments in the
case last April 28. He believed the case had merit earlier when he had ruled against Idaho’s
motion to dismiss the case brought by the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

In his decision -Judge Winmill made it clear that he had listened to the entire “ag-gag” debate in
the Idaho Legislature. He recalled that a state senator compared animal rights investigators to
“marauding invaders centuries ago who swarmed into foreign territory and destroyed crops to
starve foes into submission.” The same senator called Mercy for Animals–like investigations
terrorism whose purpose was “to destroy the ability to produce food and confidence in the food’s

Dave Flynn’s article reveals much more about this special judge’s 28 page opinion on the ag-gag law
which he declared unconstitional. It is interesting and Flynn does a good job in explaining the judge’s
legal rationale for his decision in this regard. Please look up his post on Food Safety News if this
interests you. I was also glad to read that the judge had probably been influenced by the Animal
Legal Defense lawyers who use their law background to work for animals.