SHOW NOTES FOR EPISODE #12: ANTI-FIRST AMENDMENT LEGISLATION

INTRODUCTION

Hello and welcome to Learning the Law, a podcast about all things legal with a focus on current events where we try and teach you things in an hour. My name is Ashley, aka PhoenixNymphy and my co-host who is the man of the hour, my husband Ron. This podcast is purely educational and should not be taken as legal advice, this podcast does not create an attorney client relationship, this podcast is based on his interpretation of relevant law. Any opinions expressed are the opinions of the individual making them and do not reflect the opinions of any firm, company or other individuals. Ron is a licensed practicing attorney in the state of California.

Itinerary

  1. Our Weeks
  2. Questions from the audience
  3. Topic of the week – Aftermath of the Chauvin Trial & Anti-protest Laws
    1. Derek Chauvin Aftermath
    2. Jim Crow laws – Past and Present
      1. What are Jim Crow laws?
        1. Historically
        2. When the Nazis set out to legally dis-enfranchise and discriminate against Jewish citizens, they weren’t just coming up with ideas out of thin air. They closely studied the laws of another country. According to James Q. Whitman, author of Hitler’s American Model, that country was the United States.“ America in the early 20th century was the leading racist jurisdiction in the world,” says Whitman, who is a professor at Yale Law School. “Nazi lawyers, as a result, were interested in, looked very closely at, [and] were ultimately influenced by American race law.”
      2. How are they coming back?
        1. Voter Suppression
          1. In Georgia, the GOP-led legislature sent a bill to Republican Gov. Brian Kemp on March 25. It imposes new voter identification requirements for absentee ballots, empowers state officials to take over local elections boards, limits the use of ballot drop boxes and makes it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.
          2. In Arizona, one bill would repeal the state’s permanent early voting list, by which voters can automatically be sent an absentee ballot. The state, where Republicans lost both Senate seats in recent years, but retain the state government, has the most suggested changes. The list is long, indeed — see it here.
          3. In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing a proposal to cut down on the mailing of mail-in ballots to voters and cut access to ballot drop boxes.
          4. Many states are considering changing from signature verification to require voters to include a copy of their driver’s license or other paperwork with a mail-in ballot.
          5. Others are considering proposals to remove a voter’s registration if they don’t vote in four consecutive years.
          6. In Texas, there are more than a dozen suggested bills and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said they’re needed because Harris County, recently a Democratic stronghold, made changes at the local level to increase turnout during the pandemic.
          7. “We must pass laws to prevent election officials from jeopardizing the election process,” Abbott said, somehow arguing that more people voting jeopardizes the process.
    3. Anti-Protest Laws
      1. First Amendment – Freedom of Speech
      2. First Amendment – Freedom to Peaceably Assemble
      3. An example – Florida anti-riot law

So far, a total of 81 anti-protest bills have been filed in 34 states this year, according to the New York Times. No matter that more than 96 percent of protests in May and June last year over Floyd’s killing involved no property damage or police injury

The law, which already faces a lawsuit from the nonprofit Legacy Entertainment & Arts Foundation, transforms many public disorder misdemeanors into felonies. It denies bail to protesters until they see a judge. A newly defined category of misdemeanor is called “mob intimidation,” defined as two or more people using even the “threat of force” to try to change someone’s “viewpoint.” A “riot” is defined as at least three people who, together, pose at least a “clear and present danger” to someone or something.

The law’s fine print also gives the state the power to override attempts to shrink police budgets. But even the Republican state legislature seems to recognize that some sort of police reform is needed: It is expected to pass some mild reforms this week, including tougher rules on choke holds and a requirement that officers intervene if another uses excessive force.

As for the “anti-riot” law, precisely what kind of behavior or language would make someone liable for “inciting a riot”? Hard to say, because the statute is so vaguely written. Meanwhile, Florida already had laws on the books to deal with public disorder during a demonstration and, by most measures, they have worked. The last full-blown riot in the state was in 1989 after a Miami police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of an unarmed Black man.

Peaceful protesters could easily find themselves unintentionally caught up in heated situations that could result in their arrest for a felony and jailed without bail until they come before a judge, typically a day or two later. This could cost them their jobs and make them vulnerable to hasty, desperate plea deals, which could ruin their lives in countless other ways.

And for what? For marching on the streets to protest injustice, a right and tradition embedded in America’s origin story (and ballyhooed by Republicans who adore those musket-bearing Minutemen and tea-dumping patriots).

State Sen. Jason W. B. Pizzo, the Democratic chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, whose panel was bypassed by the Republican-controlled Senate, told me the law is “a completely overreaching dragnet.” It’s the proverbial “solution in search of a problem,” he said. Plus, “Nobody even asked for this law.”


CLOSING

Thank you so much for listening to Learning the Law if you liked this podcast and want to hear more don’t forget to like, subscribe, follow, and share in all your favorite places. You can find it hosted on twitch at twitch.tv/phoenixnymphy use the hashtag #learningthelaw on tiktok to follow more there. You can find Ron on twitter at Necrokijo and Ashley on most social media platforms at PhoenixNymphy. If you have any questions please tweet, comment, or email at twolazydogsmedia@gmail.com. This has been a Two Lazy Dogs production.

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