10/06/2034 5:59 AM ET

POLITICS

Celebrating Ten Years Of Kaley's Law

Brielle Chankoowashtay
Justice Editor

CC0 1.0 Image by janeb13 | Writer image: CC BY 4.0 Caterina Fake by Caterina Fake | Images were cropped. Images used for illustration purposes only.
Evolving the way we think about justice toward oppressed groups is just one of the profound benefits of Kaley's Law.
This month marks the tenth anniversary of Executive Order 14173 (otherwise known as Kaley's Law), signed by Hillary Clinton October 12th, 2024. Kaley's Law was the first specific effort to address hate speech, at a federal level.

The order makes it illegal to issue any harassing speech or speech which could reasonably offend or insult a designated minority group, whether or not members of those groups are within earshot.

The Order originally applied to federal and state buildings, including schools and colleges, and areas of public accommodation, including public spaces and shopping areas.

It was built off existing federal anti-discrimination legislation such as 1964's Civil Rights Act, 1963's Equal Pay Act, and 2018's Safer Education Act. President Clinton used the intent of these and other laws to "clarify and enhance" rules regarding bullying and intimidation of vulnerable Americans.

President Clinton addressed the nation in the wake of the Order, and parts of her instantly viral speech are still worth reflecting on today:

"Right now, tens of millions of Americans are feeling unloved and unwanted. They are feeling less like Americans and more like outcasts in our society. In increasing numbers, they are turning to alcohol, drugs, and self-harm as a way of coping with being excluded and vilified by others.

"Microaggressions harm us all. Macroaggressions harm us all. Intolerance harms us all. We are stronger when we come together in a spirit of love for our fellow Americans. The spirit of this country is greatness and inclusion. I want an America where everyone can be free of hate and division and bigotry, and where everyone is able to strive for the best in themselves.

We must learn that our freedoms, so dearly bought, must be cherished and used wisely. And that our speech, while free, must be used with caution, reflection and, ultimately, with love."

She went on to elaborate that speech targeting gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer, as well as Black, Latin and Native Americans was the focus of the Order. It was amended in 2029 by President Stader to include polyamorous, transspecies and transabled Americans.

He further amended it in 2031 to include speech targeting abortion, and to cover private workplaces, including private schools and colleges.

Cynical Republicans mocked the Order, accusing Democrats of trying to get out the vote, as it came on the eve of a federal election. Labeling it an example of executive overreach, they predicted the end of freedom of speech in America, and President Clinton was subjected to a litany of insults from conservative lawmakers and pundits as the law was implemented.

Kaley's Law received judicial support (philosophically) in 2031's Amhir v. Chicago Tribune which reached the Supreme Court. Mahmed Amhir launched a civil case against the Tribune, which had published inflammatory statements about the Prophet Mohammed. The court ultimately found in his favor, leaning heavily on Kaley's Law for support.

The executive Order was named after Kaley Xinshuan, of Winchester, MD, who identified as transabled. In 2022, after years of enduring bullying from her fellow students, she committed suicide at the age of nine. Her parents posted a heartfelt plea on Youtube for the federal government to take action.

Each state's Civil and Human Rights Council (CHURC) has been responsible for enforcing Kaley's Law on a three-strikes basis: a first offense merits a warning, a second offense, a $125 fine, and a third can be referred to local prosecutors for punishment of up to a month's jail time, depending on the severity of the offense and its effect on any targeted groups in earshot.

The National Civil Rights Agency - which oversees all fifty states' CHURCs, reported last month that since Kaley's Law went into effect ten years ago, 15.6 million first offense notices have been issued, 1.4 million second offense fines have been issued, and 98,000 cases have been referred for prosecution. The agency reports that the numbers of offenses have trended downward each year.

This means in effect, that Kaley's Law is working. Less hate speech is being issued. And more Americans are living in freedom.

Happy tenth birthday, Executive Order 14173.
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