MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A new Tennessee Senate Bill would make it illegal to cover your face with a mask or hood in public.
Supporters say it combats crime by stopping people from concealing their identities, but critics say Senate Bill 1750 would be a violation of privacy and would do more harm than good.
“As an African-American, I feel like some laws are traditionally targeted towards minorities, and I feel like this is one of those laws,” University of Memphis student Jalan Veasley said.
Violating the proposed law would lead to a misdemeanor, but the regulation would not apply to holiday costumes, work uniforms or sporting attire if it is needed for safety.
Steve Mulroy teaches constitutional law at the University of Memphis.
“It strikes me as raising some pretty serious constitutional concerns,” he said. “We don’t have an affirmative obligation to always show our face when we’re in public … It would be one thing if it was narrowly targeted on highly sensitive, secure areas like governmental buildings or large public events where there were heightened security concerns, but as a general blanket matter, you can’t, consistent with our privacy rights, say you’re not allowed to cover your face up in public.”
Senator Jon Lundberg (R-Bristol) filed the bill.
WREG reached out to the senator for comment but has not heard back.
A similar bill in the Tennessee House is working it’s way through the legislature as well. WREG also reached out to the representative who filed it, Bud Hulsey (R-Kingsport), but we have not heard back.