The Corner

There’s No Republican Crackdown on Peaceful Protests

The Republican-controlled Arizona Senate recently passed on a party-line vote a bill that addresses a real, if sporadic problem (protests that erupt into violent riots), but with a dose of overkill: racketeering laws designed for organized crime:

The full Arizona Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that makes participating in or helping organize a protest that turns into a riot an offense that could lead to criminal racketeering charges, legislation Republican backers say is needed to crack down on violent protesters.

The measure adds rioting to the organized crime statutes and says an overt act isn’t needed to prove conspiracy to riot, meaning someone could be charged who wasn’t involved in the actual riot.

In an effort to produce a “trend” of Republican crackdowns on “peaceful protest,” a story by Christopher Ingraham of the Washington Post’s WonkBlog draws together Republican proposals in 18 states (many of them proposals by an individual legislator or otherwise far from becoming a law), gratuitously comparing them to responses to the (scrupulously non-violent) Montgomery Bus Boycott. The Arizona proposal, like a few of the others, imposes excessive and unnecessary sanctions that hopefully will be moderated before being passed into law, but even a cursory review of Ingraham’s examples illustrate that nearly all are aimed at violence, property destruction, and obstruction of the lives and livelihoods of ordinary citizens, not just non-violent protests. Of the 18 state proposals:

Parties in power tend to dislike protests, of course, and Republicans in some states may well be overreacting to the persistence of riots, looting, arson, and violence that tend to accompany left-wing protests over the past decade. But the narrative that this is a wave of legal crackdowns on people peacefully stating their case to the public is a false one.

Correction: This article originally mis-described the outcome of the Supreme Court case as upholding, rather than striking down, the law blocking clinic access.

Dan McLaughlin — Dan McLaughlin is an attorney practicing securities and commercial litigation in New York City, and a contributing columnist at National Review Online.

Most Popular

World

The Brexit Crisis

After what seem like years of a phony war, British and European Union negotiators finally agreed on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU earlier this week, and Theresa May announced it in the House of Commons. The deal covers more than 500 pages of legal and bureaucratic prose, and few but the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Basta La Vista, Baby

Dear Reader (And especially Martha McSally’s dog), As I often note, I increasingly tend to see the political scene as a scripted reality show in which the writers don’t flesh out the dialogue so much as move characters into weird, wacky, confrontational, or embarrassing positions. It’s a lot like The ... Read More
U.S.

Friends of Elmer

Do you know what scares an American outdoorsman more than a grizzly bear? Twitter. In the late summer and early autumn, the hunting world had its eyes on the courts: The Trump administration had issued new guidance that would permit the hunting of brown bears (popularly known as grizzly bears), including in ... Read More