Known for his staunch defense of the Confederate Flag, Rep. Mike Pitts now wants jail time for journalists who don't meet certain requirements and write anyway.
South Carolina State Rep. Mike Pitts is stirring up controversy again.
After leading the charge in his unsuccessful attempt to keep the Confederate flag from being removed from capitol grounds after a deadly, racially motivated shooting at a church in Charleston last year, Pitts is now proposing a new law that could result in journalists being thrown in jail, according to an NPR report.
Should the bill become law — a long shot, and even if it does it would likely be struck down by the Supreme Court on 1st Amendment grounds — journalists would have to undergo mandatory criminal background checks and proof that the person is a competent journalist. The bill would propose jail time for journalist who repeatedly ignore this order.
The bill is called the South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law, and it has drawn near universal condemnation from rights groups, although they expressed confidence it had little chance of passage.
A person who works as a journalist without registering with the government under the proposed law would be subject to a series of escalating fines, maxing out at $500 or a 30-day prison term, and media outlets that hire them also would be subject to penalties.
Pitts said in an interview with a news outlet that he was actually trying to start a debate about constitutional rights, noting that the law he was proposing was similar to laws restricting guns and attempting to compare 1st and 2nd amendment rights in this country.