The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) has filed a federal lawsuit challenging multiple provisions of North Carolina’s “Anti-Riot Act”, as recently amended by House Bill 40.l (HB 40). HB 40 significantly increases criminal penalties for protesting and makes protestors liable for substantial civil damages to individuals harmed by a protest, even where a protestor only verbally encouraged activities defined as “rioting” and did not take any individual actions to cause injury or damage. The suit contends that multiple provisions of the law, including provisions that could apply to protestors whose own conduct is entirely peaceful, are overbroad and vague and will function to dissuade people from engaging in lawful protest activities.
The ACLU of NC suit notes that multiple advocates noted constitutional problems with HB 40 before its passage. Yet, the General Assembly persisted in enacting a law that legislators knew would violate North Carolinians’ First Amendment rights,
The ACLU-NC plans to follow the filing of this suit by moving the court to halt the enforcement of these plainly unconstitutional portions of HB 40.