(VitalNews.org) – The state of Michigan is in the process of introducing a new bill (HB 4474) that would make it a felony punishable with a $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison to cause someone to feel “frightened, threatened or terrorized”. Classes protected against intimidation include “gender identity and expression” and sexual orientation.
The bill is intended to replace the current Ethnic Intimidation Act and has alarmed legal experts as well as conservatives and people of faith. The bill would almost certainly run counter to the First Amendment rights that Americans currently enjoy, and William Wagner, a former legal counsel and a federal judge in the U.S. Senate, joined the increasing numbers of lawyers and politicians concerned about the bill.
He said, “The people who are trying to push this bill through will inevitably use it as a weapon to destroy conservative expression.” He added that one only needs to look at the hundreds of cases that have been brought against businesses, churches, and schools, and how individuals have been bullied into silence and financially ruined.
He added that under the bill, someone could read the works of a conservative writer or listen to a religious preacher and claim that they were being intimidated because of their “perceived gender identity.” Whether or not someone is thereby harassed or intimidated could be decided by a local prosecutor, meaning that the bill determines what may be criminal “after the action.” This is the complete opposite of the due process that is required under the Constitution.
The bill has only got as far as it has because all three branches of the legislature in Michigan are controlled by Democrats. Wagner said that Democrats should not be in the business of telling people how to think, but Republicans lack the votes to counter the bill in the House and the Senate, and if passed, the bill is likely to be rubber-stamped by Gretchen Whitmer, the Democrat Governor.
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