A new California bill is taking aim at the freedom of speech and association of police officers in the state, and would allow them to be removed from serving if they have used “hate speech” or are affiliated with a “hate group.”
Known as the California Law Enforcement Accountability Reform Act (CLEAR Act), the bill states it is meant to combat “the infiltration of extremists in our law enforcement agencies.” It was introduced by State Assembly Member Ash Kalra from San Jose.
The bill, AB 655, would require background checks for all officers who were deemed to have “exchanged racist and homophobic messages,” the Federalist reports. It is scheduled for a vote on April 6.
Pacific Justice Institute attorney Matthew McReynolds warned that the bill’s vagueness allows Christians and conservatives to be labeled as “hateful” for opposing abortion or same-sex marriage. The CLEAR Act defines “hate speech” as “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.”
“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 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,” he continued.
Radio host Todd Starnes said that groups like the Family Research Council, American Family Association, and Alliance Defending Freedom could also be “hate groups” as defined by the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center’s infamous hate-group list.