A California state lawmaker wants to ban from service police officers and police officer candidates who are members of “hate groups” or have used “hate speech” in the past, even in private discussion forums.
The news curator Press California reported the bill’s broad definition of the term “hate” could apply the ban to “police officers expressing conservative religious or political views on abortion, marriage, and gender or with membership in a political party or a church that does.”
Pacific Justice Institute Senior Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds said the bill would usher in a “new era of McCarthyism” that would target Muslims, Catholics, evangelicals and even registered Republicans.
“Under the guise of addressing police gangs, the bill at the same time launches an inexplicable, unwarranted, and unprecedented attack on peaceable, conscientious officers who happen to hold conservative political and religious views,” he said.
“Indeed, this is one of the most undisguised and appalling attempts we have ever seen, in more than 20 years of monitoring such legislation, on the freedom of association and freedom to choose minority viewpoints.”
The sponsor of AB 655 is Bay Area Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a Democrat from San Jose.
The plan would require police candidates to receive a background check for “official membership in a hate group, participation in hate group activities, or other public expressions of hate,” noted Press California, which was founded by a former CNN.com and NYT Digital multimedia journalist.
Police officers could be fired as a result of a complaint from the public.
But the bill’s definition of “hate” is unclear.
“‘Hate group’ means an organization that, based upon its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities, supports, advocates for, or practices the denial of constitution constitutional rights of, the genocide of, or violence towards, any group of persons based upon race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability,” it states.
Kalra said a “public expression of hate” means “any explicit expression, either on duty or off duty and while identifying oneself as, or reasonably identifiable by others as, a peace officer, in a public forum, on social media including in a private discussion forum, in writing, or in speech, as advocating or supporting the denial of constitution constitutional rights of, the genocide of, or violence towards, any group of persons based upon race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability.”
McReynolds told Press California that among the unanswered questions are whether “hate groups” include churches that oppose abortion or that define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. And would Muslims be banned from being officers because they attend a mosque that has ‘spoken out against homosexuality or gender equality?
The California Republican Party officially states that a two-parent family is the best for children, so “it is important to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.”
“The rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been the topic of intense political debate for 200 years, and especially over the last several decades since the Supreme Court found a right to abortion in the Constitution in 1973,” Greg Burt of California Family Council noted in the report.
“Should the state now ban from public service qualified, fair-minded people who happen to hold religious or political views that conflict with controversial Supreme Court decisions on marriage and abortion? This is a blatantly unconstitutional violation of religious liberty and freedom of speech. It is also a tyrannical abuse of power from a politician seeking to ruin the lives of those he disagrees with.”
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