On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union seemingly called on America to follow France’s lead—and ban catcalling. The tweet was swiftly deleted, though I obtained a screenshot.
A U.S. ban on catcalling—defined as street harassment of women, usually by men, often of a sexual nature—would likely violate the First Amendment, unless the law was very narrowly tailored to prohibit only severe, pervasive, objectively offensive conduct, or threatening behavior. Even then the Supreme Court might strike it down; think of As obnoxious as catcalling is, the government simply can’t prevent men from talking to women in public. This is something that many anti-catcalling groups understand explicitly, which is why they often oppose attempts criminalize such behavior.
So it’s pretty telling that the ACLU could forget, even for a moment, that banning catcalling would be a significant blow to civil liberties, and would likely undermine other important goals, like criminal justice reform. (In the U.S. at least, the government would disproportionately arrest poor people, immigrants, and people of color for catcalling.)