By Lydia Nusbaum
May 16, 2022 Updated 4:36 P.M. ET
TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill (H.B. 1571) into law that bans picketing at homes in Florida if the intent is to harass someone.
“Sending unruly mobs to private residences, like we have seen with the angry crowds in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices, is inappropriate,” DeSantis said. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”
Republican State Sen. Keith Perry brought forth the legislation.
“A home should be a safety area and should have sanctity to that and so that’s why I filed a bill,” Perry said.
The bill makes it illegal for someone to picket or protest in front of someone’s home with the intent to “harass or disturb” that person. A person who violates this could face a second degree misdemeanor.
“I think that there’s plenty of opportunities for people to go and make sure that their voice is heard,” Perry said. “But someone’s home should be separate.”
Before a person can be arrested, law enforcement is required to tell the person picketing or protest to leave immediately. If the person does not leave peacefully, the officer can make the arrest.
“We have people on both sides of the aisle that think it’s okay to harass people. They have neighbors, you have families, and having a kid get off a bus and walk through a screaming yelling picket line is not something that I think is the American way,” he said.
Perry expects the legislation could face legal challenges. Democrat lawmakers said they are afraid it would encroach on free speech.
Perry said this legislation is timely with protestors picketing outside of Supreme Court Justices’ homes in Washington, D.C.
“It’s clearly a way to intimidate people. You can’t have a minority mob, intimidate lawmakers or especially judges,” Perry said.
The majority of U.S. Supreme Court Justices reportedly plan to strike down Roe v. Wade after a leaked Supreme Court draft. Since then, pro-abortion activists have protested outside of some of those Justice’s homes in an effort to sway the court’s opinion.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who sided with the majority in the draft opinion, recently said that conservatives didn’t protest at the Justices’ homes.
“You would never visit Supreme Court justices’ houses when things didn’t go our way. We didn’t throw temper tantrums. I think it is … incumbent on us to always act appropriately and not to repay tit for tat,” he said.
DeSantis called the leak an “attack” on the justices.
“I think it was an intentional thing to try to whip up a lot of the public to try to make it very political, potentially try to bully them into changing one of their positions – and that is not something that’s appropriate for the judicial branch,” DeSantis said earlier this month.
Democrat candidates for Florida Governor Nikki Fried and Charlie Crist refused to condemn the protests outside the justices’ homes. Florida’s Voice reached out to the campaigns. Neither one responded to an email asking whether they feel those actions are appropriate.
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