Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill on Monday banning picketing and protesting outside of private residences.
After the addresses of conservative Supreme Court justices were doxed by a radical left-wing group, pro-abortion activists have illegally protested in front of the private homes of the justices in an apparent attempt to convince them to change their votes on an upcoming decision. The group, which calls itself “Ruth Sent Us” in reference to the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, published a Google map showing the home addresses of the six conservative justices on the court, though the map was later removed by Google.
The protests were sparked following the unprecedented leaking of an early draft opinion in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which indicates that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
“Sending unruly mobs to private residences, like we have seen with the angry crowds in front of the homes of Supreme Court justices, is inappropriate,” DeSantis said on Monday. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”
Protesters will not be arrested immediately, however, but will instead be provided with one warning to disperse, according to the law.
“Once this law takes effect, law enforcement officers will provide a warning to any person picketing or protesting outside of a dwelling and will make arrests for residential picketing only if the person does not peaceably disperse after the warning. Residential picketing will be punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor,” the governor’s office explained.
The bill, HB 1571, had been in the works since January 2022 but moved through the state legislature quickly after the illegal protests at the homes of Supreme Court justices began.
While the right to protest is protected under the First Amendment, there are limitations. 18 U.S. Code § 1507 prohibits demonstrations outside “a building or residence occupied or used by such judge” with the “intent of influencing any judge.”
The full text of that particular section of the law prohibits “interfering with, obstructing, or impeding the administration of justice, or with the intent of influencing any judge, juror, witness, or court officer, in the discharge of his duty, pickets or parades in or near a building housing a court of the United States, or in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer, or with such intent uses any sound-truck or similar device or resorts to any other demonstration in or near any such building or residence.”
Therefore, while DeSantis’ legislation expands the law to include protests outside of any private home, the protests outside of the homes of Supreme Court justices were already illegal under federal law.
Despite the clear violation of federal law, the Biden administration has endorsed these protests. On May 10, then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki stated that the administration supports “peaceful protest” and the gathering outside of private homes has been “peaceful to date, and we certainly continue to encourage that outside of judges’ homes, and that’s the president’s position.”