Two bills under consideration in the Georgia General Assembly present a grave threat to free speech and expression, the ACLU of Georgia and Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta said today.  Senate Bill 1 and Senate Bill 160 both contain provisions that target protesters and would violate the First Amendment’s prohibition on laws that abridge the right of the people to speak and peaceably assemble.

 “The ACLU of Georgia will oppose any effort to curb the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and expression,” said Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia.  “By suppressing and even criminalizing protest, these unconstitutional bills would trample on one of the most fundamental cornerstones of our democracy.  We’ve seen similar anti-protest bills put forward in states across the country – an alarming and anti-democratic trend that the ACLU will oppose at every turn.”

“We will fight any bills that threaten our first amendment rights to assemble and free speech,” said Stephanie Cho, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. “Advancing Justice stands in strong opposition to SB 1 and SB 160 due to their provisions regarding protesting and demonstrations.”

Both bills are scheduled to be heard by a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee today (March 15).

Senate Bill 160 would criminalize protest by making it a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature to engage in conduct such as blocking a sidewalk or a street during an unpermitted demonstration. 

Senate Bill 1 would expand the government’s surveillance and security apparatus, and includes an attempt to target protests and political expression.