US Legislative Briefer: “Guilt by Association”

Critical Infrastructure Bills and the Right to Protest


The United States has recently witnessed a rise in demonstrations surrounding the construction of natural gas and oil pipelines, with highly publicized protests at Standing Rock and other pipeline construction sites. In response to these protests, a number of states have proposed (and in some cases passed) bills that proponents claim will protect critical infrastructure from trespass and vandalism.

This legislative briefer focuses on critical infrastructure bills’ potential for creating collective liability. Many of the proposed bills contain broad provisions that could be used to hold peaceful protesters or protest organizers, including organizations, liable for the unlawful actions of others.