People who protest in front of private residences in Florida can face jail time and fines under a bill signed Monday by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
He said it would prevent protests in Florida like those waged by abortion advocates in front of U.S. Supreme Court justices’ homes in Virginia.
The new law will make it a second-degree misdemeanor to protest in a manner that is meant to intentionally harass or disturb someone in their home. Violators face 60 days in jail and fines up to $500. But protesters may only be arrested after ignoring law enforcement’s orders to disperse. The new law will take effect Oct. 1 [The Hill].
“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 in a statement. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”
Democrats have objected to the move, arguing that it’s a violation of first amendment rights.
State Sen. Keith Perry of Gainesville sponsored the bill through the Florida Senate. “This bill recognizes the right of privacy, safety and peace that we all deserve in our own home,” he said in March in backing the law [NY Post].
Many municipalities have enacted ordinances limiting or banning protests in neighborhoods, particularly protests that target individual homes. The issue presents an argument between protecting an individual’s privacy and ensuring protesters the freedom of expression.