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 information about our methodology, click here.

45 states have
considered
229 bills
36 enacted 53 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation and executive orders

Latest updates: Jul. 22, 2021 (Massachusetts), Jul. 16, 2021 (Missouri), Jul. 12, 2021 (Alabama)
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2 entries found matching the provided filters.
Utah

SB 173: Criminal penalties for protests that disturb legislative or other government meetings

Would create new criminal penalties for individuals protesting convenings of the legislature or other meetings of government officials. The bill expands "disorderly conduct" to include a person that recklessly causes public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm by making "unreasonable noises" at an official meeting or in a private place that can be heard at an official meeting. Similarly, disorderly conduct is defined to include obstructing pedestrian traffic at an official meeting or refusing to leave an official meeting when asked by law enforcement. The bill also increases the penalty for disorderly conduct with it punishable by a $750 fine on the first offense (an infraction), up to 3 months in jail if one had been warned to cease prohibited conduct (Class C misdemeanor), up to 6 months for a second offense (Class B misdemeanor), and up to 1 year for a third offense (Class A misdemeanor). Accordingly, if adopted, the bill could, for instance, be used to penalize silent protesters who refuse to leave a legislative committee meeting. An earlier version of the bill explicitly made it unlawful to commit even a "single, loud outburst, absent other disruptive conduct, that does not exceed five seconds in length". (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 24 Feb 2020; Approved by Senate 5 March 2020; Approved by House 12 March 2020; Signed by Governor 30 March 2020

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Utah

SB 138: New penalties for protesters who block traffic and immunity for drivers who injure them

Would institute new felony penalties for anyone found guilty of "riot" who intentionally "obstructed" traffic. The offense would be a third degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. The bill's revised definition of "riot," while somewhat narrower than existing law, would still be broad enough to cover protests by three or more people where no violence or property destruction was committed. The bill provides that anyone charged with "riot" may be denied bail. Under the bill, anyone convicted on felony "riot" charges may not be employed by any state or local government entity for five years after the conviction; they also may not receive any state employment benefits during that time. The bill would also eliminate criminal and civil liability of a driver who unintentionally injured or killed someone near a protest. Under the bill, a driver would not be criminally or civilly liable if he injured or killed someone while "fleeing from a riot," believing that fleeing was necessary to avoid injury and exercising "due care" in doing so. These provisions, if enacted, could encourage reckless driving near protesters and injuries as a result. Finally, the bill waives a local government's immunity from a lawsuit for instances of "grossly negligent conduct" in which an employee failed to protect property or individuals during a "riot" or "violent assembly." If enacted, these provisions could encourage municipal governments to adopt overly aggressive law enforcement responses to protests in order to avoid lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 28 Jan 2021; Approved by Senate 24 February 2021; Expired with end of session 5 March 2021

Issue(s): driver immunity, riot, traffic interference, state liability

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