Bill To Ban “Racist” Mardi Gras Throws Is Blatantly Unconstitutional

In the wake of racist Mardi Gras throws which were allegedly thrown in parades this year, State Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) has filed a bill to ban these throws. The bill would ban any items that  “promote ethnic, religious or racial supremacy of any group over another.”

From WDSU:

State Sen. Troy Carter of New Orleans said racist throws of any kind should not be a part of Mardi Gras.

The Democratic lawmaker recently filed a bill to ban all items that “promote ethnic, religious or racial supremacy of any group over another.”

WDSU obtained a photo of a caricature figure that one New Orleans man claims was thrown near his son during the Krewe of Adonis parade on Feb. 15 in Gretna. The figure shows a black man eating a watermelon — an image historically known to insult African American people.

“We want people to understand, this is not a joke, “ Carter said. “This is something that has teeth. You can go to jail. The club can be fined, as well as the individual.”

Under Senate Bill 261, violators of the law would be subject to fines ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000, plus possible jail time and community service.

“(Whether) it’s a swastika or a noose around a black doll, none of this has any place in Mardi Gras,” Carter said.

While nearly all people would agree that racism has no place on Mardi Gras, this bill is the wrong solution. For starters, the legislation is surely unconstitutional. Mardi Gras throws are speech and this legislation would be an unconstitutional limitation of a Mardi Gras club’s right to free speech.

This bill likely does not have a serious chance of passage. But if it is passed and upheld by the courts, it would open up the doors for the state to legislate what Mardi Gras clubs can say or promote during their parades.

Racism at Mardi Gras is a bad thing but banning racist throws opens up a bunch of constitutional worms.



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