Activists Challenge SB 742, CA Law Prohibiting Harassment at Vax Sites

by on October 19, 2021

In response to protesters briefly shutting down Dodger Stadium in January while it was serving as a mass COVID-19 vaccination site, Gov. Gavin Newson signed into law Senate Bill 742 that makes it a misdemeanor in California for protesters outside any business or medical facility to physically interfere with vaccination efforts or harass and intimidate those attending clinics administering shots, including COVID-19 vaccines.

According to an Oct. 13, 2021 study by Peterson Center on Healthcare/KFF, approximately 90,000 Covid-19 deaths could have been avoided over four months of this year if more U.S. adults had chosen to be vaccinated.  And the coronavirus is now the second-leading cause of death after heart disease in the U.S.  Lives are at stake. Instead of helping to solve the crisis facing us, these activists are participating in the problem.

Citing the First Amendment, anti-abortion activists have now teamed up with anti-vaxxers and white supremacists to file a court challenge to S.B. 742, arguing that it is too broad to pass Constitutional muster.  The definition of harassment in S.B. 742 states, “Harassing” means knowingly approaching, without consent, within 30 feet of another person or occupied vehicle for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling with, that other person in a public way or on a sidewalk area.”  Violators could face a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Unfortunately this lawsuit is likely to stoke more fear and mistrust of Covid-19 vaccinations at a crucial time for public health. By filing the lawsuit, these activists are exploiting pro-choice politics in order to defend their right to get their families and community sick.  Protesting those seeking a possible life-saving Covid-19 vaccination should not be permissible under the First Amendment.  Truth and anti-vaccination are contradictory terms; spreading disinformation to those seeking vaccinations is “harassment.”

I doubt that the California Supreme Court will strike down S.B. 742 but once a matter becomes a court proceeding anything is possible.

Filed under: Bay Area / California