No sh-t? ACLU backs bill decriminalizing public profanity

aclu virginiaThe ACLU of Virginia has asked a House of Delegates committee to approve a bill that would decriminalize use of profanity in public.

In a letter to the House Courts of Justice Committee, ACLU-VA Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga said concerns expressed about the implications of HB 893, sponsored by Del. Michael Webert (R-Marshall), on the ability of police to respond when needed to disorderly conduct are unfounded. “Fighting words” or speech meant to incite a riot are addressed in other statutes that can be used to prosecute disorderly conduct or use of abusive language against another person. HB 893 does no more than delete unconstitutional language covering the use of profanity to express viewpoints.

“Profane language, as the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed long ago, remains protected by the First Amendment, however, because it reflects personal viewpoints and is not associated with prohibited conduct,” Gastañaga’s letter states. “It would be hard to argue this is not a clearly established constitutional right” that gives rise to a claim for money damages against any officer who tries to enforce it.

Currently, profanely swearing or cursing in public is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.

A Courts of Justice subcommittee voted to recommend tabling the decriminalization billon Thursday but the full committee can still bring the bill back for a vote when it meets next week.

uva basketball team of destiny
Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, by Jerry Ratcliffe and Chris Graham, is available for $25.


The book, with additional reporting by Zach Pereles, Scott Ratcliffe and Scott German, will take you from the aftermath of the stunning first-round loss to UMBC in 2018, and how coach Tony Bennett and his team used that loss as the source of strength, through to the ACC regular-season championship, the run to the Final Four, and the thrilling overtime win over Texas Tech to win the 2019 national title, the first in school history.
 
augusta free press

Related Content

Shop Google


Comments

%d bloggers like this: