DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A federal judge has denied the state's motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a 2012 law that made it illegal to get a job at a livestock farm through misrepresentation to conduct an animal cruelty undercover investigation.

The ruling was filed Tuesday. A coalition of public interest groups challenging the law called the ruling a big win.

The groups say Iowa's law violates their constitutional free speech and equal protection rights. The lawsuit names the governor and the attorney general.

Eric Tabor, Iowa's chief deputy attorney general, told The Des Moines Register that it's early in the case's litigation and declined to comment further.