Assembly Bill 2296 - Researcher Protection Legislation
UC Press Release: Governor signs AB 2296 to strengthen protections for academic researchers
Assemblymember Mullin's Press Release: The Researcher Protection Act of 2008 Signed by the Governor
Acts of violence against University of California faculty and staff by animal rights extremists not only continue, but appear to be escalating in frequency and severity. UC personnel continue to be targets of arson, bombings, vandalism, intimidation, harassment and other similar acts, both at work and at home. While UC passionately and unequivocally supports the civil and free expression of views, including those that oppose the use of animals in research, the University will not tolerate such acts of violence and harassment. UC sponsored Assembly Bill 2296 (Mullin) to help ensure the safety of its campuses, students and personnel.
UC's position: Free speech-yes; violence-no
- We cherish and support free speech, but we abhor and will not tolerate violence.
- We have an obligation to keep our faculty, staff and campuses safe; it is foundational to all university work.
- Individuals are entitled to their views, including First Amendment-protected protests, but the kinds of violence, threats and intimidation by some animal research extremists cross the line - in fact, the FBI considers animal rights extremists among its most serious domestic threats.
- Animal research has played a vital role in virtually all advances in biomedical research for, at least, over 200 years, and we are committed to the highest standards of animal care, safety and health in full compliance with ethical and legal principles.
- The bottom line: This is not about free speech. This is about violence, which is unacceptable.
AB 2296 Highlights
AB 2296 fact sheet
AB 2296 will help state law enforcement and prosecutors to protect academic researchers and their families who are victims of threatening and destructive tactics employed by extremist activists, without jeopardizing legitimate and lawful expressions of free speech. The legislation as signed into law, would add criminal provisions to state law, as a counterpart to existing federal and state laws, regarding the commission of certain activities intended to chill, prevent the exercise of, or interfere with a researcher’s academic freedom. AB 2296 will:
- Declare that unlawful acts that threaten and intimidate researchers or their families at their personal residence are not protected by the First Amendment and are a direct threat to the academic researcher's constitutional right to academic freedom.
- Enact a new misdemeanor prohibiting any person from publishing information describing or depicting an academic researcher or his or her immediate family, or the location of an academic researcher or his or her immediate family, with the intent that another person imminently use the information to commit a crime involving violence of a threat of violence.
- Enact a new misdemeanor trespass law, making it a violation for any person to enter the residential real property of an academic researcher for the purpose of chilling, preventing the exercise of, or interfering with the researcher's academic freedom.
- Define "academic researcher" as any person lawfully engaged in academic research who is a student, trainee, or employee of UC, CSU, an accredited California community college, or a Western Association of Schools and Colleges accredited, degree-granting, nonprofit institution.
Editorials and letters of support for AB 2296
Information on the legislative history of AB 2296
News update: UC statement on the Legislature's Passage of AB 2296
More information about UC research programs involving animals
Aug. 2, 2008 firebombings at UC Santa Cruz
Summary of 2005-08 attacks on UC researchers
Related news articles and commentary
Use of alternatives for animals in research