Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation Monday making it a crime to picket or protest outside an individual’s home.
DeSantis signed Florida House Bill 1571 into law Monday. The law bans protests outside a person’s home. Under the law, law enforcement officers must first issue a warning to protesters to disperse, but if they do not, officers can arrest them. Violations of the law will be prosecuted and punished as second-degree misdemeanors. The law will go into effect on October 1.
“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 Tuesday. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”
In the preamble to the law, the Florida legislature states that “the state has a significant interest in protecting the tranquility and privacy of the home and protecting citizens from the detrimental effect of targeted picketing.” The text of the law reads:
It is unlawful for a person to picket or protest before or about the dwelling of any person with the intent to harass or disturb that person in his or her dwelling.
And further, the text of the law describes the procedure for law enforcement officers to follow when enforcing violations:
Before a person may be arrested for a violation of this section, a law enforcement officer… or a local, state, federal, or military law enforcement agency must go as near to the person as may be done with safety and shall command any person picketing or protesting before or about the dwelling of a person to immediately and peaceably disperse. If any such person does not thereupon immediately and peaceably disperse, he or she may be arrested for a violation of this section.
The Florida law is a direct response to a recent string of protests by pro-abortion activists at the homes of Supreme Court justices, in response to a leak draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization which indicated that the Court was in position to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The protests began on May 7, when protesters marched through the streets of Chevy Chase, Maryland, toward the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh. One of the groups, calling itself “Ruth Sent Us” in reference to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, had previously published a Google map showing the home addresses of the 6 conservative justices on the Court, but the map was removed by Google.
Protests continued on May 10, when pro-abortion activists demonstrated outside the Virginia home of Justice Samuel Alito. Protesters also demonstrated outside Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s home on May 12. The protests have drawn widespread condemnation from Republican leaders.
As the Daily Wire has noted, Federal law prohibits “interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence.”