DeSantis Signs Florida Law Prohibiting Protests at Residences

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law on Monday that prohibits protests outside of private residences.

The legislation follows recent protests in Maryland and Virginia outside the homes of conservative Supreme Court justices. Those protests were triggered by the leak of a draft opinion indicating the court is preparing to issue a ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

Even though the draft opinion does not necessarily reflect what the final ruling of the court will be, aborion activists have responded with sometimes violent protests outside of the Supreme Court building and churches around the country as well as the private residences of the justices.

As she was closing out her time as White House press secretary, Jen Psaki said last week that Joe Biden considered the protests outside the homes of the justices “have been peaceful to date.” She went on to say, “We certainly continue to encourage that outside of judges’ homes.”

The new law bans “residential picketing and picketing or protesting before or about a dwelling of a person with specified intent.” Police officers are required by the law to provide warnings to violating protesters before making arrests.

Arrests will only be permitted under the law if the offending person “does not peaceably disperse after the warning.”

Violations of the new law are classified as second-degree misdemeanors, which are punishable in Florida with up to 60 days in jail and a fine up to $500.

DeSantis said in a statement upon signing the law that “sending unruly mobs to private residences” such as has been seen with the angry crowds gathering at the home of Supreme Court justices will not be tolerated in Florida. He added that the purpose of the act is to protect people living in residential communities.

The protests outside of the homes of the justices also prompted the U.S. Senate to pass a bill last week that is designed to increase the security for family members of federal judges. The bill had bipartisan support and was sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Coons (D-DE).

The Senate bill has not been acted upon in the House.