Civil liberties, environmental, and Indigenous rights organizations argue that the laws are unconstitutional. “It’s hard to convince or even ask people with children to organize against pipelines if a mother will risk a felony,” said Jennifer Falcon, a spokesperson for Texas’s Society of Native Nations, which is organizing against the 650-mile Jupiter oil pipeline and Kinder Morgan’s 430-mile Permian Highway gas pipeline, both of which would carry fossil fuels from the center of West Texas’s fracking boom to the port of Brownsville on the Gulf Coast. “We intend to pursue this in higher courts,” she added. Lawyers, however, have advised the group that legal success in Texas will be elusive unless someone is charged under the law.
Instead, Louisiana and South Dakota will be the first to test the constitutional waters. A total of 19 anti-pipeline activists and organizations have signed on as plaintiffs in two lawsuits arguing that the states’ anti-protest laws are unconstitutionally vague and violate the First Amendment.