May 13, 2013

CONTACT: Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director, 615-320-7142

NASHVILLE –The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee applauds Governor Bill Haslam’s decision to veto Tennessee’s “Ag Gag” legislation, SB 1248/HB 1191, which would have unconstitutionally chilled the free speech of citizens and journalists seeking to expose animal cruelty.

SB 1248/HB 1191 would have required that anyone taking photographs and video recordings of livestock abuse turn these over to law enforcement within 48 hours or face criminal charges and fines.

Tennessee Attorney General Robert E. Cooper, Jr. recently released an opinion stating that this legislation was “constitutionally suspect under the First Amendment.”

The ACLU collected more than 34,000 petition signatures online urging the governor to veto this legislation.

The following can be attributed to Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee:

“This legislation would have criminalized individuals, including journalists, seeking to document and expose animal cruelty, violating their First Amendment rights,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN Executive Director. “Governor Haslam’s veto of Tennessee’s ‘Ag Gag’ legislation is a victory for freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Tennessee.”