Anti-protest Bills Threaten Free Speech

Freedom of Assembly

According to the ACLU, over 30 anti-protest bills in more than 20 states have been introduced, motivating the UN to intervene in respect to criminalization of peaceful protest, which it deems “incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law”.

The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which promotes and protects human rights, has to complained to the US State Department as recently as the end of March about these proposals that limit free speech. David Kaye and Maina Kiai, from the OHCHR, pointed out specific pieces of legislation which they maintain are “criminalizing peaceful protests”.

If passed, laws would enact codes such as increasing penalties for large-group protests, banning protesters from wearing masks for protection from camera surveillance, as well as protecting drivers from liability if they strike a protester.

Both The ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild maintain that the bills are probably unconstitutional. As one ACLU spokesperson put it, “This flood of bills represents an unprecedented level of hostility towards protesters in the 21st century. And many of these bills attack the right to speak out precisely where the supreme court has historically held it to be the most robust: in public parks, streets and sidewalks.”

For more information on this issue, please see THE GUARDIAN: Anti-protest bills would ‘attack right to speak out’ under Donald Trumpfrom which this information was taken.



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