US Protest Law Tracker

The US Protest Law Tracker follows state and federal legislation introduced since January 2017 that restricts the right to peaceful assembly. For more information, visit our Analysis of US Anti-Protest Bills page.

45 states have
considered
303 bills
45 enacted 23 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation

Latest updates: Jun. 21, 2024 (North Carolina), Jun. 18, 2024 (Louisiana, New York), May. 30, 2024 (US Federal)
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Illinois

HB 5819: New penalties for protests that block traffic

Would create a new felony offense for protests that block traffic on highways and other busy roadways for more than five minutes. Existing Illinois law already prohibits protests or other assemblies on roadways without a permit or other permission from law enforcement, and requires that such assemblies not obstruct pedestrian or car traffic “in an unreasonable manner;” violations are a Class A misdemeanor offense. Under the bill, blocking “an exceptionally busy public right-of-way” for more than five minutes in a way that prevents “or would prevent” passage of an emergency vehicle, is a Class 4 felony. As written, the felony offense applies regardless of whether an emergency vehicle was actually blocked, or whether the roadway was “exceptionally busy” at the time it was blocked. “Exceptionally busy public right-of-way” is defined as a public road that typically carries at least 24,000 cars daily. The bill would also newly preempt cities and counties from enforcing a more lenient rule related to protests and demonstrations on roadways.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 17 Apr 2024.

Issue(s): Traffic Interference

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North Carolina

HB 237: Heightened penalties for street protesters and masked protesters

Would increase penalties for protesters who block traffic and for masked protesters who break any law. The bill, which was proposed by the Senate Judiciary Committee as a substitute to HB 237, would make it a Class A1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 150 days in jail and a fine, to willfully impede traffic while participating in a demonstration intended to impede block traffic on a street or highway. Second and subsequent offenses would be a Class H felony, punishable by up to three years in prison. The bill would also allow organizers of street protests to be held civilly liable for any injury resulting from delays caused by the obstruction of an emergency vehicle. Additionally, the bill would amend North Carolina’s existing ban on wearing masks in public to remove the exemption for masks worn “for the purpose of ensuring the physical health or safety of the wearer or others,” and provide for enhanced sentencing of someone convicted of any offense if they were wearing a mask or other device that concealed their identity at the time. The bill’s sponsor cited recent protests on college campuses against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, where some protesters have worn masks.

(See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 7 May 2024; Approved by Senate 15 May 2024; Approved by House 11 June 2024; Vetoed by Governor Cooper 21 June 2024

Issue(s): Civil Liability, Face Covering, Traffic Interference

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For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.