Legislation introduced in California last month would prevent people from serving as law enforcement officers if they have used loosely-defined “hate speech” or have any affiliation with a “hate group,” but critics of the measure say religious or conservative viewpoints could fall under the “hate” classification.
Introduced by State Assembly Member Ash Kalra in San Jose, the California Law Enforcement Accountability Reform Act (CLEAR Act) “requires that a candidate for a peace officer position be of good moral character, as determined by a thorough background investigation.”
“You have a constitutional right to have racist and bigoted views,” Kalra said, according to local media KRCA. “You don’t have a constitutional right to be a police officer.”
The background check proposed in the bill would include looking into whether a candidate “has engaged in membership in a hate group, participation in hate group activities, or public expressions of hate.”
The proposed legislation defines a “hate group” as “an organization that…supports, advocates for, or practices 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.”
On April 6, the bill will be up for a vote before the Assembly Public Safety Committee.
Critics of the bill say the definition is too broad and could be used to label religious or conservative individuals as members of “hate groups.”
“I think everyone can agree that no one wants cops serving us who belong to violent hate groups, but this bill goes far beyond that. It actually goes after individual cops who simply have conservative social views on issues like marriage,” California Family Council Director of Capitol Engagement Greg Burt said. “I think there’s a mistake in assuming that Christians who have conservative views on moral issues are going to be a threat to folks who disagree with them.”
The California Republican Party’s platform currently states its support for traditional marriage, a position that could be deemed hate speech under the proposed Democrat bill, regardless of religious or moral objections.
“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?” asked Greg Burt, Director of Capitol Engagement with the California Family Council, according to Washington Examiner.
He continued, “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.”