North Dakota bill would make it illegal to wear masks in public

BISMARCK, ND (KFYR/NBC News) A bill before North Dakota’s House Judiciary Committee would make wearing a mask in public illegal at most times.

For months during the summer, Dakota Access Pipeline protesters used masks to conceal their identities while protesting.

“If you’re going to express your First Amendment rights and you have no intention of committing a crime, then why do you need your face covered?” state Rep. Todd Porter argued during debate over the bill.

Opponents say bill specifically focuses on occasions when masks would most likely be used as an expression of “First Amendment” ideas and would be declared unconstitutional in federal court.

“Although the mask bill provides at least 8 exemptions that would not criminalize a North Dakotan who wears a mask or hood in public, it specifically forecloses the wearing of masks, at the exact times when a mask would most likely express First Amendment ideas,” said Jennifer Cook, ACLU of North Dakota.

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