RI ACLU Testifies Against Government Oversight Of Private Youth Sports Organizations

March 20, 2009 12:00 am

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ACLU of Rhode Island
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The RI ACLU testified yesterday against a Senate bill to set up a government-appointed council to “provide oversight” of youth sports organizations in the state, including the power to impose fines against coaches, players, parents or officials in response to complaints the council receives arising from youth sporting events. The RI ACLU called such government involvement “unnecessary and inappropriate.”

In urging rejection of the bill before the Senate Committee on Constitutional and Regulatory Issues, the ACLU argued that the bill raised a host of constitutional concerns. The legislation fails to define the “youth sports organizations” subject to the council’s jurisdiction and contains no standards at all as to how the council would handle complaints, instead leaving it up to the council itself to develop all those procedures.

Similarly, in giving the council the authority to dole out fines, the two-page bill provides no information about the amount of the fines that could be imposed or what sorts of offenses could subject individuals to those penalties.

The ACLU said today that, in addition to raising many due process issues, the legislation impinges on the First Amendment associational rights of private organizations by subjecting them to unwarranted and unbounded government oversight.

A House version of the bill has also been the subject of a public hearing. The ACLU will be monitoring the bills and continuing to lobby against their passage.

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