The proposed law grants businesses the ability to gain an injunction against anyone picketing their premises and imposes massive fines on protesters.
Michigan House Bill No. 4643 was introduced by Representative Tom McMillin and amends an existing statute to include heavy fines for those that violate its prohibitions against certain type of assemblies. The civil fine for the violation of a company’s injunction against picketing is $1,000 per day. A union’s participation in the activity would result in a fine of $10,000 per day. The bill would also remove a judge’s ability to make decisions in cases brought under the statute. The use of the wording “shall issue” binds the judge. If any person is found to have violated any part of the statute, the judge must issue the injunction. The protester will also be responsible for the legal fees of the plaintiff.
In addition to spelling out what types of picketing are prohibited, the bill also imposes the same fines for
picketing a private residence by any means or methods whatever.
McMillin, an evangelical Christian, has protested outside of abortion clinics. McMillin is a vocal supporter of Right to Life Michigan. The organization's website has a statement on picketing.
The U.S. and Michigan constitutions protect the fundamental free speech right of citizens to peaceably speak, assemble, picket, and distribute leaflets in public places.
The website goes on to talk about interfering with vehicles coming to or from an abortion clinic.
The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld certain regulations on peaceful protests outside clinics. It has endorsed the use of a 15-foot “fixed buffer” zone between protesters and the clinic entrances but rejected a “floating buffer zone” that prohibited demonstrating within 15 feet of any person or vehicle going to or leaving such facilities.
The statute will bar anyone from obstructing “entrance to or egress from any place of employment.” The restrictions only apply to union-related picketing.