September 29, 2015
Online Messenger #322
A coalition of five national non-profit organizations filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Wyoming against the state’s recent passage of two ‘Data Collection Statutes,’ new laws that target citizen efforts to report environmental violations.
Western Watersheds Project and our co-plaintiffs National Press Photographers Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the Center for Food Safety brought the suit against WY Governor Matt Mead and the WY Attorney General, as well as the Director of the Wyoming Department of Water Quality and the county attorneys of Fremont, Lincoln, and Sublette counties.
WWP sometimes jokingly refers to these recently-passed laws as “Jonathan’s Law,” because they arose in response to the important work our Wyoming Director Jonathan Ratner has been doing to expose violations of water quality on public lands, but the laws themselves are not a joke. They are blatantly illegal.
Todays’ complaint alleges violations of the First Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Because the laws target specific types of speech, and specific groups of people, the do not comport with the basic laws of our land. In fact, in debates over the law at the statehouse, one WY Senator urged his colleagues to adopt the Statutes in order to apply, “the Code of the West to a group of people that don’t necessarily see [things] the same way.” That’s just not how we write laws here in the U.S., and Wyoming should be no exception.
WWP has asked that the Court declare the statutes void and to enjoin their enforcement.
Thanks to our top-notch team of pro bono attorneys, including Justin Pidot, Justin Marceau, Leslie Brueckner, and Reed Zars.