The Kansas State Fair won the first round in its free speech dispute with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten, Wichita, Kan., ruled Tuesday the fair is a so-called “limited public forum,” and that fair officials acted reasonably in requiring PETA to shield people walking by its booth from easily seeing the group’s “educational video.”
But the judge also denied a motion by the state to dismiss PETA's lawsuit.
The state of Kansas was represented by the office of Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
PETA sued the Kansas State Fair and the fair’s general manager, claiming restrictions violated the group’s free speech rights. At issue was a 13-minute video containing undercover images from slaughterhouses and large farms. The video, narrated by ex-Beatle and vegetarian Paul McCartney, is described as “gruesome” by PETA.
PETA issued a statement in response to the ruling.
“The Kansas State Fair's requirement that PETA hide its video from fairgoers is like the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy that she can't look behind the curtain,” the statement said. “We believe the First Amendment means that we can show our video without limitation to reveal what the animal agriculture industry wishes no one would see—that animals confined in filth on factory farms are routinely beaten and kicked by workers and have their throats cut open while they're still conscious at the slaughterhouse. We are considering an appeal of today's ruling.”