Georgia Tea Party activists have joined forces with organized labor to oppose a bill before the state House of Representatives that would limit the right of demonstrators to gather and picket for their cause.
The bill, passed by the state Senate on March 7, would forbid any person to
engage in mass picketing at or near any place, including private residences, where a labor dispute exists in such number or manner as to obstruct or interfere with or constitute a threat to obstruct or interfere with the entrance to or egress from any place of employment or the free and uninterrupted use of public roads, streets, highways, railroads, airports, or other ways of travel, transportation, or conveyance.
Anyone violating the prohibition would be subject to a $1,000 fine for each day of the violation, and a union or other organization that violates a court injunction to cease the demonstrations would be subject to fines of $10,000 a day. Opponents argue that the bill, if passed, would violate constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly. Tea Party activist Debra Dooley told Salon.com she wouldn’t object to banning protests in “strictly residential” neighborhoods, but argued the language bill of the bill is broad enough to prohibit demonstrations at other locations as well. Dooley was among those who testified against the bill at a hearing of the House Industrial Relations Committee at the State House in Atlanta on Monday.