A right to peace and quiet at home — for a ‘certain’ few

Your state Legislature is poised to protect the right of certain people to enjoy the peace and tranquility of their homes.

Probably not your home. Definitely not mine. But the homes of “certain” people – that’s the exact word used in the legislation. By which lawmakers mean the homes belonging to business executives, mostly. And only a few of those.

SB 469 is sponsored by state Sen. Don Balfour, R-Snellville, but was written by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce — another chapter in the organization’s ongoing war at the state Capitol against unions.

Much of the bill is devoted to making it more difficult for unions to collect dues from paychecks. That’s a traditional battleground. It is the portion of the bill addressing public demonstrations that is novel, and has resulted in an unprecedented political alliance between organized labor and tea party activists.

SB 469 would ban the picketing of a private home that interferes “with the resident’s right to quiet enjoyment,” and charts a course for a resident to wrest financial penalties from those who cause the disturbance.

But only if the demonstration is conducted by a labor union or a similar organization.

A list of talking points from the Chamber insists that the legislation is intended to make sure that demonstrations occur in the proper places – “not where families, children, and neighbors who have nothing to do with these issues are being severely impacted.”

Publicly, the Chamber says that the legislation is anticipatory in nature, meant to discourage a future trend that has popped up elsewhere. Privately, its members have pointed lawmakers to a 2009 picketing in which a carpenters union targeted the Atlanta home of Alana Shepherd, the elderly co-founder of the well-respected Shepherd Center – whose son, James Shepherd is chairman of the board.

(A spokesman for the center, which specializes in spinal injuries, very forcefully said the clinic had no connection to the legislation.)

SB 469 sailed through the Senate earlier this month, and was the topic of a packed House hearing this week. Lawmakers assured those attending that the “right to quiet enjoyment” of one’s home wouldn’t apply to doctors targeted by anti-abortion forces, strip club owners detested by neighborhood activists, bankers who foreclose on homes, or errant members of Congress disliked by the tea party. Or journalists, for that matter. Or you.

The “right to quiet enjoyment” would apply only to business executives required to deal with unions. Or perhaps the occasional government official – a governor or state lawmaker, for instance — faced with protests from public employees.

Because Georgia is a right-to-work state, unions are perpetual underdogs at the Capitol. A coalition was necessary. Union lobbyists reached out to anti-abortion forces, with no result. They had better luck with Georgia Tea Party Patriots.

“The other side is getting a little nervous – that people like the tea party and labor are coming together. The conversation and the debate have changed,” said Charlie Flemming, president of the state AFL-CIO, which represents perhaps 170,000 workers and retirees in Georgia.

On Monday, many testified against SB 469 at a hearing held by the House Industrial Relations Committee. But the star was Debbie Dooley, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.

Lawmakers present challenged her assertions that penalties in the law could be applied toward abortion protesters or her fellow tea partyists. But she had a bottom line beyond that.

“Labor unions, the tea party, and Occupy Atlanta – there are many issues that we disagree on. But there’s one issue that we’ve all come together on, and we’re in agreement that this bill… is an assault on our First Amendment rights,” she said. After the hearing, in an overflow room, union members gave her a standing ovation.

Bill Hembree, R-Winston, the chairman of the House Industrial Relations Committee, supports SB 469, and intends to schedule a vote in the next few days.

But even if SB 469 becomes law, it would certainly be challenged in court – where the measure’s largest problem is likely to be exposed, confirmed Sonja West, who teaches constitutional law at the University of Georgia.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld geographic bans on picketing – but has also ruled that government can’t pick and choose the reasons behind public demonstrations. The rules of protest for labor unions can’t be different from those for tea parties.

The Legislature would be better off giving everyone the right to enjoy the peace and quiet of their homes, she said – with a ban on all demonstrations aimed at private residences.

But that would require lawmakers to cap the voices of the right as well as the left.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

40 comments Add your comment

stranger in a strange land

March 21st, 2012
7:05 pm

Some pigs are more equal than others.

Really, is there no idiotic law on the extreme right these.nutcases aren’t willing to pass? Or does this one fall under their slavish pandering to those that pay the brides demanded by these Elmer gantry’s?

Just Wait

March 21st, 2012
7:16 pm

We might as well appoint the Chamber of Commerce as our representatives. They certainly control all the Republicans who “work” there. Even the Chamber should know that legislation like this is surely to fail in the courts. They don’t seem to mind at all spending the tax payers money to defend such laws. Are they that scared of unions?

say what?

March 21st, 2012
7:20 pm

So let me understand this- We taxpayers are only involved the process of voting because the constitution requires such. If not for the constitution, these lobbyist would automatically own every last one of us. the constitution is slowing the process, and the poor support of public education by our legislature is doing the rest.

Allison

March 21st, 2012
7:21 pm

I thought Republicans were all about free speech and less government interference. I’m confused.

Will

March 21st, 2012
7:24 pm

Last time I checked SEIU goons were only interested in bussing large crowds of people in to intimidate and threaten the families of firefighters and sales reps. The unions thug tactics are the reason for these laws. If they were not engaged in intimidation and threats as a means to get their way, we would not need these laws.
If you don’t like it, get out a @#$#@ mirror.

Roach

March 21st, 2012
7:33 pm

“First they came for the Jews, and I wasn’t a Jew, so I didn’t say anything . . .” Do they have the least clue about the precedent they are setting?

Tired of BS

March 21st, 2012
7:35 pm

Senator Balfour…. Shame on you! I expect better from you. You have become a very big disappointment to those of us who have supported you in the past.

Loook before I leap...

March 21st, 2012
7:54 pm

Has there been a rash of mass picketing against the business execs at their homes that I am unaware of?
Is this an example of legislation that addresses a virtually non-existent problem?

Would this legislation not fail under equal protection clauses in the constitution?

And how exactly is this legislation going to promote job growth in the state of Georgia, our failing and dysfunctional education system and our seriously deficient state and local finances?

It would be a neat exercise to publish the home addresses for every lawmaker who supports this bill and bus the Occupy Atlanta rabble to every house for a little exercise in 1st Amendment rights.

td

March 21st, 2012
8:27 pm

I was a member of a 2 unions and can tell you that union members and especially union leaders are some of the dumbest people in the world. They actually told us, when I was working at Lockheed, to vote for Mondale (who wanted to cut defense spending) over Reagan. In other words vote for someone that wants to do away with your job.

hl

March 21st, 2012
8:44 pm

td.. I think according our Stand your ground law you can shoot us.. so go ahead and sweet dreams.
You can order your christian bumper sticker at the same time from the site that sells the re-nig bumper stickers.

td

March 21st, 2012
8:58 pm

hl

March 21st, 2012
8:44 pm

Found a better bumper sticker today and it fits more with this topic:

How do you like your CHANGE now?

DUMBA@@

Phil Lunney

March 21st, 2012
8:58 pm

The only hopeful thing about this legislation is that Occupy and the Tea Party agree on something. We the people should draw a line in the sand and tell the GOP not to cross it.

TruthBe

March 21st, 2012
9:04 pm

That way the Polictians, Judges, Union Leaders, CEO’s, and the Media People can say and do harmful things to us “Little People” and we can’t fight back. Because if we do then they have the law on their side so they can control us and our liberties. They are above the law. The law and the courts are only there to put us in our places. To protect the big wigs and to protect their interests.

TruthBe

March 21st, 2012
9:05 pm

Phil, The Democrats are worst than the GOP. TOO MANY LAWS…………………..

Phil Lunney

March 21st, 2012
9:12 pm

TruthBe I agree that the lawmakers are all politicians but this is a GOP controlled group passing law after law to limit your rights. Your statement above is correct about protecting those in power, who write the laws and now have personal Super PACs. Combine this with Citizens United and we have reverted to the late 19th Century in the American labor movement. TruthBe if you ain’t rich, the GOP will eat you alive.

td

March 21st, 2012
9:47 pm

Phil Lunney

March 21st, 2012
9:12 pm

How in the world is making a personal home a safe place for a family and neighbors taking the rights away from any one? People have the right to assembly and protest on the public square and I will defend that right all day long as long as they follow the established rules. People do not have the right to invade the road in which I live on and traumatize my children.

The General

March 21st, 2012
9:54 pm

Balfour thumbs his nose at his constituents. He tells them he’s been breaking the law for 20 years by misappropriating specially designated funds to purposes other than where they are required to go. He then has the balls to say, “I’ve been doing it for 20 years and I keep getting re-elected.”

I trust this pig’s last election is truly his LAST election.

Tea Party Patriots is FINISHED

March 21st, 2012
9:58 pm

This is the end. I’ve attended tea parties. Given to their cause. No more. This is a disgusting turn for them. I guess all the rumors about the leadership selling out is really true. This isn’t free speech. This is bullying and exactly what some of these self-proclaimed tea party people have become.

The General

March 21st, 2012
10:01 pm

@ Tea Party Patriots is FINISHED—What in the world are you ranting about. You make less sense than td, who I believe has either a reading problem or at best, a comprehension problem.

honested

March 21st, 2012
11:17 pm

don never let anything like Federal Law or Constitutionality get in the way of a terrible idea he wanted to force into ‘law’.

It has become obvious, flip over a rock labeled ‘chamber of commerce’ (or more appropriately ‘business union) and you will find ALEC hiding in the slime underneath.

honested

March 21st, 2012
11:18 pm

teapottie is finished….

Sir, that is last year’s news.

honested

March 21st, 2012
11:19 pm

td,

So why is it the abortion nuts have no problem picketing the home of physicians who disagree with their deranged sense of reality?

td

March 21st, 2012
11:49 pm

honested

March 21st, 2012
11:19 pm

I do not think they should be allowed to picket in the neighborhoods or the houses of the doctors. They can picket all they want to outside the place of business or in the public square. This is not a left/right issue to me.

You asked for it

March 22nd, 2012
12:27 am

really… I posted some info here almost two hours ago, and the post is still “waiting for moderation”?

rr

March 22nd, 2012
1:11 am

“People do not have the right to invade the road in which I live on and traumatize my children.” IF the road is publicly supported, it isn’t PRIVATE property.

I can’t believe anyone would support this just listening to the groups excluded at THIS point. However, what law anywhere doesn’t expand later – then they just add all those other groups back in. Sorry if the TEA Party and UNIONS stand together, you have one heck of a DEFECTIVE piece of legislation before you.

Bring back Speaker Tom Murphy!!! At least he had SOME class.

What will return the state to Democratic rule? GOP bills and votes just like this. It took the democrats 80 years to lose the state, it’s going to take the republicans just about 4 more at this rate! WAKE UP

“Lawmakers assured those attending that the “right to quiet enjoyment” of one’s home wouldn’t apply to doctors targeted by anti-abortion forces, strip club owners detested by neighborhood activists, bankers who foreclose on homes, or errant members of Congress disliked by the tea party. Or journalists, for that matter. Or you.”

ld

March 22nd, 2012
2:33 am

The GOP has become very selective about which Constitutional freedoms they are willing to protect–

it appears that the right to protest and the prohibition against establishing religion (as law) are on the NOT list.

Those that want economic tyranny and religious tyranny are trying to buy this presidential election.

As technology gets better it will become increasingly more difficult for the many to overthrow the few that seem to want to take us back to the days of the few landed gentry and everyone else as serfs, slaves, indentured servants, sharecroppers or employees working for tips.

Buckhead Boy

March 22nd, 2012
4:37 am

The Neo-Republicans sure do love their wars, domestic as well as foreign. With their wars on labor, women, public education, the unemployed, poor and disabled, and constant skirmishing with gays, immigrants, Muslims, etc. at home, you have to admit that these mercenaries in the service of the monied interests are indefatigable. Nevertheless, it appears that some of the camp followers are beginning to be disenchanted with the conduct of those mercenaries.

Patrick Malone

March 22nd, 2012
7:16 am

The only flaw in the law is it doesn’t apply to all private residences. If Debbie Dooley is such a defender of the Constitution why isn’t she concerned with the right’s of the executives family, neighbors and acquaintances when private residences are targeted. It is a sad to watch the TEA party spiral into irrelevance because it has lost sight of the issues that caused its birth – taxes and smaller government.

Road Scholar

March 22nd, 2012
7:45 am

td: “People do not have the right to invade the road in which I live on and traumatize my children.”

As noted above, your neighborhood street is public R/W. get over it or purchase it from your local government and maintain it! And your rant about shooting a person who steps on your property, It may feel good to say/do, but you will be in jail and a costly defense if you and your family aren’t being directly threatened. td, I know this is lost on you, but don’t do anything stupid. Stupidity can be painful! I want you around to care for your family.

honested

March 22nd, 2012
7:59 am

It might be time to take a moment to reflect on exactly what legitimate authority the Business Union (chamber of commerce) has over anything?

Since when do these clowns have the right to waltz in and enforced enactment of laws that restrict the rights of legitimate, breathing Citizens?

It is bad enough to legitimize actions creating a massive grievance amongst the public. It is unthinkable in the United States to suppress the right of the public to petition for their grievance.

Chip

March 22nd, 2012
8:14 am

Free speech is about PEACEFUL assembly in the PUBLIC square. It is NOT about viscious union thugs and screaming, mentally unbalanced “occupiers” attacking, terrorizing, and intimidating people in their homes on their private property. These so-called “protests” at private homes are a form of terrorism, carried out by evil leftist goons and ranting lunatics, for the specific purpose of intimidating others for the imaginary crime of disagreeing with liberal positions.

Threatening people with physical violence and death, especially in their own homes, is NOT free speech, it is criminal activity. We don’t actually need a new law to deal with it, we already have the Second Amendment. The Framers who wrote the Constitution knew that eventually law-abiding citizens might find themselves in a position where they have no alternative bu to defend themselves from violent enemies, wither foreign or domestic.

Union thugs and “occupier” trash are lazy UN-AMERICAN, ANTI-AMERICAN liberal trash who commit crimes and threaten others because they mistakenly think other people owe them a free ride through life. We don’t, and the sooner we start using the Second Amendment against these lazy, useless parasites, the sooner we can have a peaceful, stable society again.

No Longer Republican

March 22nd, 2012
8:16 am

I agree with an earlier poster that said when you have the unions and the Tea Party in an alliance against legislation, there must be a real problem with that legislation. This type of law is scary and if people cannot see that, Georgia is in serious peril. What are you going to do when they take away the next right, and the next and the one after that. By then all the laws will be changed to keep those in power, in power. We take our freedoms for granted here but powerful people get greedy and when you are not looking can take away things you hold dear. Maybe you don’t agree with protests or unions…but by golly you SHOULD agree with the people’s freedom to do what they believe.

honested

March 22nd, 2012
8:29 am

chip,

Why do you hate Americans so much?
Did they get you in trouble when you tried to short their paychecks?

Thanks for explaining why such an outrageous piece of legislation should have EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN up in arms.

honested

March 22nd, 2012
8:32 am

Forgetting the past is a dangerous aspect of human consciousness.

If ever there was a good time to look at the youtube video of Woody Guthrie’s ‘Vigilante Man’ to remember why protections from such abominable legislation is necessary.

Keep doing this GOP

March 22nd, 2012
8:41 am

Another Republican bill, another war.

So far that is wars on women, unemployed , banks, and now free speech.

Has anyone ever noticed that the GOP has to have an enemy of some sort?

Question Man

March 22nd, 2012
9:48 am

Is anyone surprised by this legislation? After all, how many of us regular folks are giving tickets, dinners, and other freebies to legislators?

Aaron Burr V Mexico

March 22nd, 2012
11:42 am

TD said this:

“hl

March 21st, 2012
8:44 pm

Found a better bumper sticker today and it fits more with this topic:

How do you like your CHANGE now?

DUMBA@@”

That looks like a personal attack TD. Still a liar. You are still a hypocrite.

Aaron Burr V Mexico

March 22nd, 2012
11:50 am

We need a constitutional amendment that there is no statute of limitations on crimes committed by elected officials.

GaBlue

March 22nd, 2012
1:00 pm

A: Solidarność!!

Q: What grassroots movement by people who actually WORK for a living broke the first finger on the iron fist of Soviet tyranny over the peoples of Eastern Europe?

A: Solidarity!

Q: What will it take for the working people of America to take back this country from the Plutocrats, the rich man’s union known as the Chamber of Commerce, and their little crony wh-ore-s at every level of our legislative process?

Aaron Burr V Mexico

March 22nd, 2012
2:42 pm

A: America getting its head out of its ass and having a political memory longer than a week and a half.

November 2010 proved that the ability to elect George W. Bush but even crazier means that isn’t gonna happen for a long time.