CA Police Officers’ Religious Rights at Risk After Newsom Signs Law to Crack Down on Free Speech

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that gives the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training the power to define “biased conduct” and according to one conservative nonprofit, could punish a law enforcement officer for speaking out as a private citizen online against any actions by the LGBTQ community. 

Assembly Bill 443 passed the California State Assembly on Sept. 13. Voting for the measure were 58 of the 62 Democrats, and five Republicans, including Juan Alanis, Phillip Chen, Heath Flora, Marie Waldron, and Greg Wallis.

According to the legislation, “Biased conduct includes any conduct, including, but not limited to, conduct online, such as social media use, engaged in by a peace officer in any encounter with the public, first responders, or employees of criminal justice agencies.”

“Biased conduct may occur in an encounter with the public, first responders, employees of criminal justice agencies, as defined in Section 13101, or online, such as conduct on social media,” the measure continues. 

“Law enforcement agencies shall use the commission’s definition of biased conduct, consistent with paragraph (5) of subdivision (b) of Section 13510.8, in any investigation into a bias-related complaint or an incident that involves possible indications of officer bias, and determine if racial profiling occurred, as defined in subdivision (e) of Section 13519.4,” the law instructs. 

“The commission shall develop guidance for local law enforcement departments on performing effective internet and social media screenings of officer applicants. The guidance shall include, at minimum, strategies for identifying applicant social media profiles and for searching for, and identifying, content indicative of potential biases, such as affiliation with hate groups,” according to the law. 

The term “hate groups” is a concern because far-left organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center have mislabeled some Christian ministries and conservative groups as “hate groups.”

READ  SPLC Hate Map Under Fire After FBI Used It: Catholic Journalist Warns of Plan ‘to Silence People’

AB 443 was introduced in February by Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley-Perris-San Jacinto), the first openly gay black man in the history of the California legislature. 

Police Officers, Officer Candidates to be Investigated for ‘Biased’ Speech Online

The term “biased conduct” in the new law has raised concerns among some conservatives since it now appears even the personal online speech of law enforcement officers will be considered for potential bias. 

Save California, a nonprofit campaign for children and families says the new law is an attack on the First Amendment rights of religious police officers who might oppose the LGBT agenda based on biblical beliefs.  

The nonprofit alleges AB 443 would be used “to punish moral/religious police officers and officers candidates by ‘investigating’ so-called ‘bias conduct’ disapproving of ‘LGBTQIS+’ antics.”

According to Save California, “AB 443’s ‘biased conduct’ is motivated by bias toward any person’s protected class or characteristic, whether actual or perceived, that is in subdivision (b) of Section 51 of the Civil Code.”

The Civil Code says “Sex” also includes, but is not limited to, a person’s gender. So “gender” now means sex, and includes a person’s gender identity and gender expression. “Gender expression” means a person’s gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.

Save California also noted the new law would punish police officers and officer candidates who, on their personal social media, “like” — a conservative group, which the Left calls a “hate” group, the nonprofit contends. 

It also says AB 443 punishes the free speech and freedom of association of moral/religious law enforcement officers and officer candidates. 

The law will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2026.

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***