October 25, 2021

Ga. Justices to Consider Constitutionality of Arresting State Capitol Protesters

By Katheryn Hayes Tucker | Daily Report | October 25, 2021

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“Georgians must be able to speak their minds in the State Capitol building, the seat of our democracy,” said ACLU of Georgia legal director Sean J. Young.

Protest within the hallways of the Georgia State Capitol Building, 1 potentially illegal under O.C.G.A. § 16-11-34.1. (Image via Court Documents)

A battle is shaping up at the Georgia Supreme Court over the constitutionality of the state law used to arrest several protestors at the state Capitol—including a state legislator who is now a member of U.S. Congress.

The trouble with the law against disrupting business under the Gold Dome is that capitol police have used it to arrest people who weren’t disrupting anything, according to an amicus brief filed Monday by the ACLU of Georgia on behalf of the Southern Poverty Law Center plus Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Feminist Women’s Health Center, Georgia Conference of the NAACP, Georgia Equality, Georgia STAND UP and Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. Therefore, they argued, the criminal statute in question violates the freedom of speech guarantees in the state and federal constitutions.

“Georgians must be able to speak their minds in the state capitol building, the seat of our democracy,” the brief’s author, ACLU of Georgia legal director Sean J. Young, said in a written statement Monday. “Our amicus brief asks the Georgia Supreme Court to enforce the robust speech protections of the state constitution and strike down this overbroad criminal statute.”

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