Florida may outlaw protests outside of private residences under new proposal
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/27/21Rep. Randy Maggard, R-Dade City, during the House Professions & Public Health Subcommittee meeting, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

A first-time violator faces 16 hours of community service or a $25 fine.

Republican Rep. Randy Maggard is sponsoring a bill that would outlaw protests outside of a person’s home.

The measure (HB 1571) would penalize violators, classifying a first offense as a noncriminal violation and a second offense as a second-degree misdemeanor.

Punishments vary between a first- or second-time offense. A first-time violator, the bill says, faces 16 hours of community service or a $25 fine.

Two-time offenders, meanwhile, may face up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine and six months probation — per the statutory penalties listed in state law.

“The state has a significant interest in protecting the tranquility and privacy of the home and protecting citizens from the detrimental effect of targeted picketing,” the bill says.

Demonstrations out front of a person’s home are not a new phenomena. In 2004, antiwar demonstrators targeted the home of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Years later, protests rallied outside the homes of Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State John Kerry.

The trio are by no means alone. The home of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson was targeted by an anti-racist group in 2018. Thinking it was a home invasion, Carlson’s wife and children locked themselves in a pantry.

In light of what will likely amount to a First Amendment debate, the measure cites a 1988 Supreme Court case that involved two anti-abortion advocates leading others to protest outside of a Wisconsin doctor’s home.

The case — Frisby v. Schultz — led justices to side with the city of Brookfield, saying the government is within its right to prohibit protests outside of a person’s home.

If signed into law, the bill would take effect Oct. 1. According to lobbyist disclosure forms provided by the House, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office is monitoring the measure.

Maggard represents House District 38, a right-leaning district that includes portions of Pasco County. More information about the bill is available online.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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