- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Latest on a challenge to a Utah law banning undercover filming at Utah slaughterhouses and other agricultural facilities (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

A federal judge is weighing whether a Utah ban on hidden cameras at slaughterhouses that was passed amid a wave of similar measures around the country violates the right to freedom of speech.

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby heard arguments Tuesday in a challenge to a state law that bans secret filming at agricultural facilities. A similar measure was struck down last year in Idaho.

Animal activists argue the law is an unconstitutional attempt to keep them from exposing inhumane or unsafe practices at factory farms.

The state of Utah contends the First Amendment doesn’t allow people to enter private property under false pretenses and record however they want.

Shelby questioned both sides closely, saying he’s spent hours weighing the issues raised by the case. He did not immediately rule.

2:40 p.m.

Animal rights groups are challenging in court Utah’s law banning secret filming of slaughterhouses and other agricultural facilities Tuesday after a similar measure was struck down in Idaho.

The activists say the Utah law that was passed amid a wave of similar measures around the country is designed to keep them from exposing inhumane or unsafe practices at places such as factory farms.

The state of Utah says it doesn’t violate any constitutional protections and still allows filming from public places while also allowing abuse reports from whistleblowers. The measure makes the facilities safer by barring unskilled undercover operatives, state attorneys argue.

The hearing comes after a judge in Idaho found a similar law violates the First Amendment - a win for activists that they’re aiming to repeat in eight states with similar rules.

Idaho is appealing that ruling.

At least five people have been charged under the Utah law since it was passed in 2012, though those cases have since been dropped.

Four were animal activists from California who were cited outside a large Iron County hog farm in 2015. The charges were later dropped because the farm didn’t want to pursue them.

A woman who faced a misdemeanor count after being accused of filming a front-end loader dumping a sick cow outside a slaughterhouse in 2013 is a plaintiff in the case challenging the law, along with Animal Legal Defense Fund and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Media groups have also joined the lawsuit, saying the law violates the First Amendment.

The Animal Agriculture Alliance, U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and other groups have lined up to support the state.

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