The Idaho House has killed a bill that would have made it illegal for protestors to picket in front of someone’s home.
The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Brooke Green [D-Boise] because of an incident last April. Activist Ammon Bundy and others picketed the home of a Boise-area police officer who arrested a woman who refused to leave a city park that was closed for Covid reasons.
“There’s certain segments of our society, because of whatever social fabric that they adhere to, find it ok to show up in front of our law enforcement families and terrorize them on their doorstep. I know what you’re thinking," Green said.
“What I am vilifying today is a technique. It is a behavior. It is an action. I’m criticizing its place in our discourse," said the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Greg Chaney [R-Caldwell], who says the bill is patterned after laws in Arizona and other states.
“I just emailed the body an article from the state of Missouri. Senator Josh Hawley, who along with Senator Ted Cruz, led the challenge to the certification of the election in the Senate, his home was approached by protestors and a similar law in the state of Missouri was invoked to protect his family," he said.
Opponents, such as Rep.Tammy Nichols [R-Middleton], argued Chaney’s bill is vague and threatens people’s free speech rights.
“We do have laws on the books already to cover a lot of this stuff and so why are we going to add more law? I see this as, if we pass this, we’re going to start creating free speech zones and that is very anti-First Amendment," she said.
Chaney’s bill was defeated by a 38-31 vote. One of those who voted against was Rep. Joe Palmer [R-Meridian], who said he struggled with the decision.
“We put ourselves into this position, this job, and we make decisions that are tough. Do we deserve to ridiculed over it? No. But we need to be careful. We need to do our best to slow things down and make good decisions," he said.
That includes, Palmer says, preserving people’s rights to voice their opinions in public places, even when it makes people uncomfortable.