The Arizona senator who was trying to pass a law that would have made it illegal to record police from within 20 feet withdrew his bill after a national backlash that anybody could have predicted.
Anybody except John Kavanagh, the retired cop turned republican legislator who failed to do his research before proposing such a preposterous law.
Had he done his research, he would have learned that another republican senator tried to do the same thing in Texas last year, only to face the same backlash from both parties, forcing him to withdraw the bill within a month.
The lesson here is that the First Amendment is a bipartisan issue. Especially when it comes to police accountability and government transparency.
Kavanagh, who spent two decades as a cop in New York and New Jersey, was probably still accustomed to creating his own laws as he probably did back then.
The lawmaker pushing to limit when the public can shoot video of police said Wednesday that he’s killed the bill.
Sen. John Kavanagh, a Republican from Fountain Hills, said the proposal became too controversial, so it was, “time to move on.”
“I’d rather concentrate on my other controversial bills,” said Kavanagh, who has a knack for filing headline-grabbing legislation.
SB 1054 would have barred the public from taking video within 20 feet of police activity.
From the moment Kavanagh filed the measure, there were cries that it violated the First Amendment right to free speech.
It also comes at a time when cell phone and smartphone videos have raised questions about police brutality and use of deadly force.
Kavanagh said opposition to his proposal came from both Democrats and Republicans.
Opposition also came from the National Press Photographers Association and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who sent Kavanagh a letter explaining why it would be such a ludicrous law.
The bottom line is that there are already laws in the books that forbid citizens from physically interfering with an investigation.
And if police feel they need more space, they have the authority to establish a perimeter by putting up crime tape, which forbids citizens from entering without a police escort, including reporters with cameras. It happens everyday.
But what he was proposing was to establish a different set of laws for people with cameras, which is hugely unconstitutional.