Individuals who protest outside private residences in the state of Florida will now face a fine or prison time under a new bill signed on Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The Republican governor signed the bill, known as HB 1571, shortly after protests erupted outside the homes of Supreme Court justices in the wake of the leaked majority draft opinion indicating that the Roe v. Wade decision would be struck down.
“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,” said DeSantis in a statement. “This bill will provide protection to those living in residential communities and I am glad to sign it into law.”
Specifically, the newly-signed bill will allow law enforcement officials to issue a warning to any individual found “picketing or protesting outside of a dwelling” with “specified intent.”
Individuals who do not disperse from the residence after the warning has been issued may be arrested. The bill also makes residential picketing punishable as a second-degree misdemeanor.
Second-degree misdemeanors are punishable by up to 60 days in jail and/or six months probation and a $500 fine.
The law will take effect Oct. 1.
Florida’s new law comes just a week after the Senate last week unanimously passed a bill, known as the “Supreme Court Police Parity Act,” that would allow the Supreme Court to provide 24-hour security protection to the families of Supreme Court justices.
Lawmakers voted on the move after the 67-page opinion of the Supreme Court was published on May 2 by Politico suggesting that the justices would overturn the decision that legalized abortion across the entire United States.
The leak prompted protests to break out across the country, including at the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Samuel Alito, and Amy Coney Barrett.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), one of the lawmakers who introduced the bill last week alongside Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), said last week that the bill was necessary because both the justices and their family members had experienced threats to their physical safety following the leaked opinion.
“Threats to the physical safety of Supreme Court justices and their families are disgraceful, and attempts to intimidate and influence the independence of our judiciary cannot be tolerated,” said Cornyn in a statement. “I’m glad the Senate quickly approved this measure to extend Supreme Court police protection to family members, and the House must take up and pass it immediately.”
The Supreme Court Police Parity Act would amend title 40 of the United States Code to grant the Supreme Court security-related authorities “equivalent to the legislative and executive branches for the immediate families of the nine justices and any other officers of the court” if the marshal determines such protection is necessary.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said last week that the Biden administration “strongly believes in the constitutional right to protest” but called on protesters to remain peaceful, noting that such demonstrations should never include violence or threats.