Outlawing “Repeated” Speech That “[C]auses … Emotional Harm” or “[C]reates a Hostile Environment”?

The East Greenwich, Rhode Island town council was apparently considering an “anti-bullying” ordinance that would have outlawed, among other things, “the repeated use” of any “expression” that “[c]auses … emotional harm to the victim” or “[c]reates a hostile environment for the victim.” The exact boundaries weren’t clear, since the draft was partly just given as an outline, so it’s not obvious whether this would be limited to speech about minors, but it does seem that this wouldn’t have been limited just to sanctions internal to public schools (such as suspension if the speech causes disruption at school).

Fortunately, the Town Council promptly backed off, “because, in the words of Town Councilor Michael Kiernan, ‘it is unconstitutional on its face.'” Thanks to June Kim of the UCLA Law Library for tracking down the details.