American Civil Liberties Union defends right to participate in boycotts

By agency reporter
January 7, 2019

A bipartisan group of senators are attempting to include the Combatting BDS Act in S.1, the Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act of 2019. This provision was unable to move forward in the 115th Congress, primarily due to First Amendment concerns.

Kathleen Ruane, Senior Legislative Counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  said:  "In the midst of a partial government shutdown, Democratic and Republican senators have decided that one of their first orders of business should be to sneak through a bill that would weaken Americans' First Amendment protections. The bill, Combatting BDS Act, encourages states to adopt the very same anti-boycott laws that two federal courts blocked on First Amendment grounds. The legislation, like the unconstitutional state anti-boycott laws it condones, sends a message to Americans that they will be penalised if they dare to disagree with their government. We therefore urge senators to vote no on the Combatting BDS Act next week."

The ACLU takes no position on campaigns to boycott Israel or any other foreign country, but it has long defended the right to participate in political boycotts, which it says are "a proud part of this country’s constitutional tradition and protected by the First Amendment."

* American Civil LIberties Union


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