Why the GOP War Against Protesters Won't Succeed

slate.com
5 min read
fairly difficult
The first of a wave of anti-protest laws hit a major roadblock in court: the First Amendment.
The first of a new wave of anti-protest laws to reach federal court has already hit a major roadblock. Last week, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a preliminary injunction temporarily barring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and three Florida sheriffs (plus their officers) from enforcing part of the state's anti-riot law, HB 1.

HB 1 is just one of dozens of anti-protest laws enacted or proposed by Republican lawmakers following last summer's massive Black Lives Matter protests. But if Walker's order is any indication, many of these laws aren't built to last.

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Eight states enacted such statutes, and many more legislatures passed (pending approval by the governor) or proposed similar laws. This year alone, Republican lawmakers in 34 states have introduced more than 80 anti-protest bills. This onslaught of restrictive legislation accelerated a trend that began when Donald Trump took office. Since January 2017, states have enacted 36 bills curbing the right of assembly.

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The Florida law generated substantial controversy upon its passage and enactment in April. At a ceremonial press conference and bill signing, DeSantis boasted that "if you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country. There's just nothing even close."

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That breadth likely renders HB 1 partially unconstitutional. The law's challengers, a group of Black-led advocacy organizations, sought temporary relief enjoining enforcement of…
Tyler Valeska
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