The Senate is off to a bad start. The very first bill introduced, S.1, is an omnibus that includes the “Combating BDS Act of 2019.” It’s a bill designed to chill criticism of Israel.
That’s right. As the new Senate convenes under the cloud of a shutdown, with public employees going without pay, the new Senate has declared that their top priority is curtailing your First Amendment rights.
And the situation could not be more urgent. The Senate is scheduled to vote on this odious piece of legislation tomorrow.
The Combating BDS Act grants state and municipal governments permission to enact legislation targeting supporters of boycotts of Israel. So far 26 states have already passed such laws. Twice federal judges have blockedthe enforcement of state anti-boycott laws on First Amendment grounds.
This bill is designed to send a message to local governments. It’s meant to say that it’s okay to target people because of their political views on Palestinian rights. Opponents of free speech and the right to boycott will read this as greenlighting their efforts.
Regardless of your opinions on the Middle East (and DRAD takes no position on the Middle East conflict), this is an attack on our right to dissent. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) put it best when he said,
“My grandfather spent four years in jail with Gandhi. One of my heroes, John Lewis, was beaten on the Edmund Pettus bridge. The US Congress must never punish the right of dissent, protest, and free speech. The Senate bill violates the core principles of our constitution.”