Republicans in South Dakota’s legislature (along with a handful of Democrats) have backed a completely ridiculous bill that would punish people for altering the state seal. If passed, it would be a gross violation of the First Amendment.
House Bill 1102, proposed by State Rep. Sue Peterson, specifically says that creating a replica of the image above that isn’t “full and complete” and doesn’t include the words “Under God The People Rule” could be grounds for a Class 1 misdemeanor. That’s punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
The bill effectively shuts down satire or artistic license, which is the ACLU’s concern:
Libby Skarin, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, said the legislation is in conflict with the First Amendment, which protects freedom of expression.
“It’s not a road that’s constitutional and it’s not a road we want to go down,” Skarin said.
My first reaction to this idiotic piece of legislation was that it must be the work of some right-wing extremist. There’s always one of them, right? But I was shocked to see that 86 Republicans and 13 Democrats are co-sponsoring this. Have none of them read the First Amendment?
The bill is scheduled for a hearing on Monday.
If these politicians have any sense, they’ll abandon this legislation immediately and work on something that doesn’t infringe upon the most basic of free speech rights.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)