Free Speech Press Release

11.14.18

ACLU Of Ohio Urges Rejection of Ohio Version of Pipeline Protest Bill

Broadly Worded Legislation Targets Protected Free Speech
Free Speech

COLUMBUS- On Wednesday, November 14, at 10:30am the ACLU of Ohio will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose Substitute Senate Bill 250, legislation that will discourage peaceful demonstrations or the mere exercising of one’s First Amendment rights. The language of the legislation is very broad and could result in the criminalization of peaceful protests through felonies and excessive fines.

“SB 250 was introduced because of concerns stemming from the Dakota Pipeline Access protests in late 2016-early 2017 and seeks to intimidate peaceful protesters from exercising their Constitutional rights,” said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio. A wave of similar bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the county.

The legislation addresses actions that “destroy” or “tamper” with critical infrastructure facilities but also those that ‘impede or inhibit the facility’s operations or its construction.’

“‘Impede’ and ‘inhibit’ are extremely vague terms that could be interpreted quite broadly by prosecutors and judges. SB 250 was designed to severely limit criticism, exposure of possible or actual corporate wrongdoing, or anything that merely inconveniences those who operate or want to build any of the numerous entities defined as ‘critical infrastructure facilities.’ This legislation impacts peaceful demonstrations that are entirely protected by the First Amendment and must be rejected,” concluded Daniels.

The ACLU of Ohio urges members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote no on SB 250, legislation that is likely unconstitutional.

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Read the  written testimony of Senate Bill 250.