AG: Tenn. 'Ag-gag Bill' Constitutionally Suspect

May 10, 2013

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., was sworn in as Attorney General for the State of Tennessee on November 1, 2006. He was appointed by the Supreme Court to serve an eight-year term.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s attorney general says legislation requiring anyone recording images of animal abuse to submit unedited footage or photos to law enforcement within 48 hours is constitutionally suspect.<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Attorney General Robert Cooper says in an opinion issued yesterday that the bill is questionable on three grounds, including that its "reporting requirement could be found to constitute an unconstitutional burden on news gathering. "

The Tennessee Press Association is among the organzations opposing the bill. Policy Director Frank Gibson says he was pleased to hear the AG’s opinion.

“It would not have provided any protection to animals. Instead it would have done more to protect abusers, but our major concern was that it was in direct conflict with the Tennessee reporters shield law, which was passed back in the early ‘70s.”

Gov. Bill Haslam has the bill on his desk and said earlier this week that he was waiting on the attorney general's opinion before making a decision on whether to veto the bill or let it become law.