Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill into law on Monday that will make it illegal to protest in front of a person’s private residence.
The new law makes it illegal to demonstrate in front of a private residence, even if the protest is taking place in a public space such as a sidewalk. Law enforcement will ask those in violation to disperse. If they refuse, they can be jailed for up to 60 days and fined up to $500.
The law, which takes effect on October 1, will be challenged by free speech advocates as it violates their First Amendment rights.
DeSantis was justified in signing the bill by noting that protesters were gathering in front of the homes of Supreme Court justicesWho supports removing the 1973 abortion protections Roe v. Wade decision — but the bill was filed in the state legislature back in JanuaryThis was long before protests like these were ever held.
“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,” he said in an email to reporters.
Despite DeSantis’s false characterization of the protests, however, the demonstrations in front of justices’ homes Have been peaceful.
This isn’t the first bill DeSantis has signed in recent years to suppress free speech and criminalize protesting for Floridians. Last year, DeSantis signed into law a bill. Protestors face increased civil penalties, and created new crimes such as “aggravated rioting” and “mob intimidation” — the latter of which makes it illegal for a group of three or more individuals to confront someone else to try to make them change their views. It was also illegal to block traffic on highways and it was granted civil immunity protections for people who drive into protesters.
Notably, it is the law only seems to be enforced against protestors who the Florida governor disagrees withHis administration did not respond to a protest that DeSantis supported politically blocking traffic on a highway.