US Protest Law Tracker

The US Protest Law Tracker, part of ICNL's US Program, follows initiatives at the state and federal level since January 2017 that restrict the right to peaceful assembly. For more information and an analysis of this data, click here. For information about our methodology, click here.

45 states have
considered
245 bills
39 enacted 12 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation

Latest updates: Jun. 2, 2022 (Florida), Apr. 25, 2022 (Washington), Apr. 11, 2022 (Alabama)
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24 entries matching in provided filters in 17 states. Clear all filters
Alaska

HB 295: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters at the University of Alaska. The bill requires the University to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any "protests or demonstrations that materially and substantially infringe on the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity." Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice found "to have infringed on the expressive rights of another," such as through a protest of a campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 24 Feb 2020.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Arkansas

SB 118: Criminal penalties for school and university campus protesters

Would create a new criminal sanction that could be applied to peaceful protesters on public university as well as high school grounds. The bill contains 17 broadly-worded "guarantees of free speech," including a provision that "a student shall not significantly obstruct the freedom of other speakers" to state their own views on campus. The bill provides that anyone who negligently violates any of the "rights" provided for in the bill is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, which in Arkansas is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Accordingly, a student who was deemed to have "significantly obstructed" the speech of a controversial campus speaker, for example, could be charged with a serious misdemeanor. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 17 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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California

AB 1358: New restrictions on campus protests

Would impose new limits on protests at public and private institutions of higher education. The bill would require all institutions of higher education in the state to adopt a policy prohibiting protests and demonstrations that "material and substantially infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity" and make protesters involved in such assemblies "subject to sanction." As a result, protests in public areas of campus that, for instance, made it difficult to hear a speech, would be banned and its participants liable to penalties. This behavior would be subject to a "range of disciplinary sanctions," including "suspensions, firings, and expulsions." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Georgia

SB 339: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

**SB 339 was signed into law following amendments that removed the most restrictive provisions.** As originally introduced, Senate Bill 339 would have created mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The introduced bill required public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction individuals involved in "protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity" on campus. Additionally, the introduced bill required administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who was twice "found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others," such as through a protest of a campus speaker. Amendments to the bill removed the provisions related to specific sanctions, prior to the bill's passage by the Senate. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted with improvements

Introduced 19 Jan 2018; Governor Deal signed it 8 May 2018

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Illinois

HB 3409: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters at public universities or community colleges in the state. The bill requires these public educational institutions to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any "protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity." Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year any student who is twice found to be responsible "for infringing on the expressive rights of others," such as through a protest of a campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 22 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Illinois

HB 2280: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. Like HB 2939, introduced in the 2017-2018 session, HB 2280 requires public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any "protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity" on campus. Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice "found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others," such as through a protest of a campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Illinois

HB 2939: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any "protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity" on campus. Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice "found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others," such as through a protest of a campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Louisiana

HB 269: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would have created mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill prohibits "protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity" on college campuses. In addition, the bill requires public colleges to suspend for at least one year or expel any student found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others, including by protesting. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 30 Mar 2017; Vetoed by Governor Edwards 27 June 2017

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Michigan

HB 4436: New limits on campus protests

Would impose new limits on protests at public colleges and universities. The bill would require all public institutions of higher education to adopt a policy prohibiting protests and demonstrations that "substantially and materially infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity," and make protesters involved in such assemblies "subject to sanction." As a result, protests in public areas of campus that, for instance, made it difficult to hear a speech, would be banned and its participants liable to penalties. The policy would apply not only to students and faculty but any other person "lawfully present on campus." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Apr 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Michigan

SB 350: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires community and public colleges to prohibit and subject to sanction any "protests or demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity" on campus. The bill requires that college administrators suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice "found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others," for instance through a protest or demonstration. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 May 2017.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Minnesota

HF 1383: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill provides that the Board of Trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities must adopt a policy of sanctioning anyone under an institution's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." According to the bill, the policy must include that any student who has twice been found guilty of "infringing the expressive rights of others"--for instance, through a protest--will be suspended for at least one year or expelled. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 18 Feb 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Missouri

HB 442: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would expand the state's 2015 "Campus Free Expression Act" to include provisions requiring universities to impose specific, mandatory penalties on certain campus protesters. The bill--identical to HB 2423, introduced in 2018--provides that any student who is twice found responsible for "infringing upon the expressive rights of others" should be suspended for at least one year or expelled. The bill also calls for a "range of disciplinary sanctions" to be imposed on anyone under the university's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." As in HB 2423, HB 442 also waives Missouri's immunity from federal lawsuits related to the law, such that a speaker or student group who feels the law is insufficiently enforced could sue the state and/or university in federal or state court. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Missouri

HB 2423: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would expand the state's 2015 "Campus Free Expression Act," which banned so-called campus "free speech zones," to include provisions requiring universities to impose specific, mandatory penalties on certain campus protesters. The bill provides that any student who is twice found responsible for "infringing upon the expressive rights of others" should be suspended for at least one year or expelled. The bill also calls for a "range of disciplinary sanctions" to be imposed on anyone under the university's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Feb 2018.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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New Jersey

A 5731: Mandatory penalties for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires all public institutions of higher education to adopt a policy that bars members of the campus community from engaging in conduct that "materially and substantially disrupts another person's expressive activity or infringes on the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity." Under the required policy, any member of the campus community that has twice materially and substantially disrupted the expressive rights of others--such as by protesting a controversial speaker--must be given a minimum punishment of a one-term suspension. If a lesser punishment is imposed, the institution has to submit an explanation in writing to the institution's Committee on Free Expression. The bill also requires that "a range of disciplinary sanctions" be imposed for anyone under the jurisdiction of the institution who materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 23 Aug 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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New York

A 8342: Mandatory Sanctions for Campus Protesters

Would create new mandatory penalties that could be applied against nonviolent protesters at all state and city colleges and universities in New York. Under the bill, a student that "materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others" would face a minimum one week suspension for the first offense; a minimum two week suspension for a second offense; a minimum one semester suspension for a third offense; and expulsion for a fourth offense. As such, a student protester that was deemed to interrupt a speaker at an event would be required to be suspended. (See full text of bill here)

Status: pending

Introduced 20 Oct 2021.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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North Carolina

HB 333: New penalties for campus protesters

Would require that a student who is found to have engaged in certain activity during a protest on a public university campus both be expelled and have their state financial aid revoked for at least one academic period. Covered activity includes anyone who "unlawfully write[s] or scribble[s] on, mark[s], deface[s], besmear[s], or injure[s] the walls of any public building," statue, or monument, as well as anyone who willfully damages public or private property of any kind on campus. As such, a student could be automatically expelled and lose financial aid for chalking a wall during a protest. Eligibility for readmission and reinstatement of aid would be based on restitution for the property damage committed by the student. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 17 Mar 2021.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Oregon

SB 540: Mandatory expulsion for college students convicted of rioting

Would require that public universities and community colleges expel a student who is convicted of participating in a riot. The bill expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2017.

Issue(s): Campus Speech, Riot

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South Carolina

HB 5045: New penalties for non-student protesters on school and college campuses

Would make it a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,000 fine, for a person who is not a student to "willfully interfere with, disrupt, or disturb the normal operations of a school or college" by entering the grounds of an educational institution without permission; being "loud or boisterous" after being instructed not to be; refusing to vacate a building, facility, or grounds of a public or private education facility after being directed to do so; engaging in "sitting, kneeling, lying down, or inclining" so as to obstruct an ingress after being told not to; or disrupting teaching or engaging in conduct that disturbs the peace at an educational institution or grounds adjacent to it. The bill would not only cover members of the public, but also faculty, staff, and affiliates of the educational institution who are not students. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 29 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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South Carolina

SB 33: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill requires public universities and community colleges to adopt a policy prohibiting and subjecting to sanction any "[p]rotests and demonstrations that materially and substantially infringe upon the rights of others to engage in or listen to expressive activity" on campus. Additionally, the bill requires administrators to suspend for at least one year or expel any student who is twice "found responsible for infringing on the expressive rights of others," such as through a protest of a campus speaker. The bill also waives South Carolina's immunity from federal lawsuits related to the law, such that a speaker or student group who feels the law is insufficiently enforced could sue the state and/or university in federal or state court. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): Campus Speech, State Liability

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Texas

HB 3599: New potential felony penalties for "terroristic" protests

Would create a new felony offense, "threatened terroristic violence," that could cover peaceful protesters. Under the bill, a person commits the offense if she "threatens to commit" any crime involving violence to property or persons, with a particular intent, including the intent to "influence the conduct or activities" of a government entity. Without a requirement that the "threat" convey a serious intention to imminently commit an unlawful act of violence, the offense could cover protected speech by peaceful protesters who are seeking policy change or other governmental redress. The offense would be a third degree felony, punishable by at least 2 and up to 10 years in prison. The bill incorporates the offense into other parts of Texas law as well, including the Education Code, creating the potential for student protesters to face disciplinary action based on their commission in protest activity deemed to be a "threatened terroristic violence." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 10 Mar 2021.

Issue(s): Campus Speech, Terrorism

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Texas

HB 2100: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college and university campuses. The bill was amended after it was introduced, to require public colleges and universities to adopt a policy establishing disciplinary sanctions for students or student groups who "materially and substantially interfere with the rights of others to engage in, observe, or listen to expressive activities on campus." "Materially and substantially interfere" is not defined. According to the requisite policy, any student found to have twice interfered with another's "expressive activities," for instance through a protest, must be suspended for at least one semester. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Mar 2019; Approved by House 30 April 2019

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Wisconsin

AB 444: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would impose mandatory disciplinary measures on student protesters in certain cases. The bill requires that the University of Wisconsin's Board of Regents adopt a policy that includes a range of disciplinary sanctions for anyone under an institution's jurisdiction who engages in "violent or other disorderly conduct that materially and substantially disrupts the free expression of others." The bill further requires universities in the state system to suspend for at least one semester any student "who has twice been found responsible for interfering with the expressive rights of others." If a student is found responsible for such interference a third time, they must be expelled. As a result, rowdy protests in public areas of campus that, for instance, made it difficult to hear a speech, would be banned and its participants liable to penalties. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 13 Sep 2019; Approved by House on 11 February 2020

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Wisconsin

AB 299: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would impose mandatory disciplinary measures on student protesters in certain cases. The bill requires that students who engage in "violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud, or other disorderly conduct that interferes with the free expression of others" on Wisconsin college or university campuses be compelled to attend a mandatory disciplinary hearing. The bill also requires campus authorities to suspend for a minimum of one semester or expel a student who interferes more than once with another's free speech, for instance by protesting a controversial campus speaker. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 5 May 2017; Approved by Assembly 21 June 2017

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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Wyoming

HB 0137: Mandatory sanctions for campus protesters

Would create mandatory disciplinary sanctions that could be applied to peaceful protesters on college campuses. The bill requires the University of Wyoming and community colleges to adopt a "free speech protection policy" that includes the mandatory suspension for at least one year or expulsion of any student who is twice found responsible for "infringing upon the expressive rights of others." The bill also calls for a "range of disciplinary sanctions" to be imposed on anyone under the university's jurisdiction who "materially and substantially interferes with the free expression of others." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Feb 2018; Failed in House 16 Feb

Issue(s): Campus Speech

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