US Protest Law Tracker
Methodology and Key Terms
The US Protest Law Tracker tracks legal initiatives since November 2016 that restrict the right to peaceful protest.
For purposes of this Tracker, “legal initiatives” are defined as state and federal bills and laws that go through the legislative process, as well as state and federal executive orders issued by a state governor or the US president. “Legal initiatives” does not include state or federal regulations, sub-state (municipal or county) legislation, or policies or rules adopted by law enforcement agencies. Throughout the tracker, “bill” refers to legislation that has not yet been signed into law; “law” refers to enacted legislation.
A legal initiative “restricts” peaceful protest rights where it includes provisions that constrain or narrow the means, methods, or venues used by individuals seeking to participate in or facilitate a peaceful protest. In determining whether a provision “restricts” the right to peaceful protest, we consider whether the provision could punish, deter, or limit the scope of peaceful protest activities, taking into account both the text of the initiative and its context.
The “status” of a legal initiative provides information on where it currently stands in the legislative or executive process. The four “statuses” used in the tracker are:
- Enacted: bills and executive orders that have been enacted into law;
- Enacted with improvements: bills that were enacted but with the original restrictions on the right to protest significantly minimized or removed;
- Pending: bills that have not yet been enacted into law, whether because they have not yet been voted on by the legislature or because they await a governor’s or the President’s approval; and
- Defeated or expired: bills that failed to pass into law, due to their failure to achieve the necessary number of votes by the relevant legislature, an executive branch veto, or their expiration at the end of a legislative term.
Note that the legislative sessions of state legislatures differs from state to state. Additional information on specific state legislative calendars can be found here.
The Tracker’s “Filter by” function can be used to locate legal initiatives introduced in the past month, 3 months, 6 months, or year. It can also be used to search for legal initiatives by the type of “issue” they involve (e.g., traffic interference, campus speech, infrastructure, trespass). Some bills, laws, and executive orders may involve more than one issue and are identified accordingly.
For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.