The First Amendment protects your right to boycott. Yet, many lawmakers don’t care about your constitutional rights. In state after state, and even in Congress, we’ve seen attempts to use the legislative process to silence those who use boycotts to advance Palestinian rights. Since the first of these anti-boycott bills was introduced in 2014, Defending Rights & Dissent has been on the front line of fighting for the First Amendment and your right to boycott. We’ve not only called upon lawmakers to reject these blatantly unconstitutional bills, we’ve asked them to pass legislation affirming our First Amendment rights.
We have good news! Rep. Ilahn Omar (D-MN), along with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) have introduced a resolution “Affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.”
As a domestic civil liberties organization, Defending Rights & Dissent does not take positions on international issues like Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (BDS) meant to change Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. But we do adamantly oppose any attempts to weaken our right to protest and express ourselves freely.
The onslaught of legislation aimed at silencing BDS is affront to the right of free expression. This resolution, which comes in response to that onslaught, simply affirms that boycotts have been used by movements for civil and human rights throughout U.S. history,and that the First Amendment protects them.
We enthusiastically support it.
Standing up for the First Amendment rights of all Americans shouldn’t be controversial. But we know it will be. Rep. Omar is already facing down an incendiary storm of racist hatred. Her willingness to stand up for the First Amendment is courageous.