An Idaho House committee gave a green light Friday to a bill that would outlaw picketing in front of a private home.
The 11-4 vote in the House Judiciary, Rules and Administration Committee came after hours of tense testimony and debate stretching over two days.
The bill would make it a misdemeanor to demonstrate in front of a private home or next door.
“When we’re talking about limiting speech on public streets – whether they’re in front of a home or not – I think we’re in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution,” said Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg).
Nate also had concerns about how it would affect people who run businesses out of their home. Under the proposal, businesses would not be off-limits to protesters – including those based out of a home.
Rep. Linda Wright Hartgen (R-Twin Falls) said she’s experienced protests at her home due to her husband, a former state legislator. Hartgen said it took her years before she could be home alone.
“It is not something that you want to go through and oftentimes, people go through therapy just to be able to live in their own home that should be a solace to them,” she said.
The ACLU of Idaho warned that the bill is unconstitutional, though federal courts have upheld similar laws for decades.
It now goes to the full House.
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