The California State Assembly has introduced a new bill that would ban police officers who have made public comments supporting religious or conservative views.
Those who proposed the bill say it simply removes officers who have engaged in “hate speech” or are affiliated with a “hate group.” But the strategic way the bill is written would cause many officers to lose their jobs or be prohibited from serving, simply for stating their religious or conservative beliefs.
State Rep. Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) introduced the bill. She deceptively named it the California Law Enforcement Accountability Reform Act, or CLEAR Act. She claims that it would stop “the infiltration of extremists in our law enforcement agencies.” She says it would also require a background check for any officer who has “exchanged racist and homophobic messages.”
Kalra insists that the bill is necessary to fight back against “the apparent cooperation, participation, and support of some law enforcement” in the January 6 Capitol riot in Washington, D.C.
However, the bill vaguely defines “hate speech” as “advocating or supporting the denial of 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.”
Matthew McReynolds, Senior Staff Attorney at the Pacific Justice Institute, wrote earlier this month in opposition of the bill. He insists that it would label Christians, Muslims, and conservatives as “hateful” due to certain beliefs.
“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,” McReynolds wrote. “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 Federalist reported more potential dangers of the bill:
The California GOP currently states in its platform that it believes in traditional marriage and does not believe that Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark Supreme Court case on same-sex marriage decided in 2015, can “coerce a church or religious institution into performing marriages that their faith does not recognize.”
According to this new Democratic bill, disagreeing on moral or religious grounds with homosexuality would technically mean the state GOP is espousing hate speech.
Greg Burt, Director of Capitol Engagement with the California Family Council, told the Federalist that the bill would also prevent qualified people from serving based on their political beliefs.
“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?” Burt asked. “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.”