Free expression, free assembly, and free association aren’t just fundamental rights. They are the tools that human rights defenders rely on to fight back against the abuses.
Academic freedom for supporters of Palestinian human rights is under fire.As a civil liberties organization, Defending Rights & Dissent takes no position on Palestine-Israel. However, we recognize there is a concerted, unconstitutional effort to silence supporters of Palestinian human rights. As an organization founded by victims of McCarthyism, we are obligated to speak out against such affronts to political expression and organizing
Attempts to insulate the agricultural industry from public scrutiny by using “ag-gag” laws suffered another major blow. On October 29, 2018, a federal judge ruled found that Wyoming’s ag-gag laws were unconstitutional. Ag-gag laws in other states have suffered similar fates.
The Fourteenth Amendment is one of the cornerstones of modern protections for civil liberties. It was passed during Reconstruction in order to rectify the horrifying decision of the Supreme Court that held African-Americans could never be citizens of the United States. It was meant both to grant citizenship rights to the newly emancipated slaves and to stop the former slave states of the Confederacy from violating their civil liberties.
This US military assistance constitutes “hostilities” under the War Powers Act. It is entirely illegal for any president–be it Trump or Obama–to engage in hostilities without Congressional authorization. And isn’t just the War Powers Act, the Constitution also gives Congress the exclusive power to initiate military action.
The National Park Service is considering new regulation that would severely curtail the right to protest. Reactions to these new regulations have been overwhelming. The comment period closed on October 15. We don’t yet know the total number of comments received, but so far the NPS has counted over 71,000 comments. This count is still growing.
One hundred years ago, a watershed moment for free speech in our country occured. The popular socialist and frequent candidate for office Eugene Debs was put on trial in Cleveland, Ohio. His crime? While he was convicted under the Espionage Act, Debs’ crime was antiwar remarks made in Canton, Ohio.
On September 28, 2018, a federal court issued a preliminary injunction against an Arizona anti-boycott law. Like many states, Arizona passed a law targeting supporters of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) for Palestinian human rights. The law denies state contracts to parties who boycott Israel.
We at Defending Rights & Dissent believe in the tradition of popular constitutionalism, which looks to movements for defending, expanding, and enriching our democracy, for leadership in making our Constitution real. The promise of our Constitution is still powerful, but only if we seek to fulfil it.
Kenneth Marcus, Trump’s choice to head the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Right (OCR), is moving forward with perverting civil rights law to silence student activism he opposes: advocacy for Palestine and Palestinian human rights.