Kenneth Marcus has announced that he is resigning as assistant secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education.Given Marcus’s long history of working to silence student speech supportive of Palestinian rights, Defending Rights & Dissent opposed his nomination to the post. While Defending Rights & Dissent supports robust enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws, we oppose the misuse of those laws to silence political speech about Palestinian rights or Israeli policy, as Marcus did.
Defending Rights & Dissent joined with eight other civil rights and civil liberties groups in urging the Department of Education Inspector General to review the actions of Kenneth Marcus. Marcus currently heads the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a position he previously held in the Bush administration. However, between his stints at the OCR, Marcus was a vociferous proponent of a number of schemes to deny supporters of Palestinian rights their First Amendment rights. This included encouraging the office he now heads to treat criticism of Israeli policies and support of Palestinian rights as violations of federal civil rights law. Complaints alleging just that were repeatedly rejected by the OCR. That is until Marcus came to head the office.
Anti-semitism is a real threat and should be opposed. Civil rights laws are an important and necessary tool in upholding the rights of all people. However, it is a distortion of civil rights to use federal civil rights law to silence political speech and advocacy for Palestinian human rights.
The First Amendment protects your right to boycott. Yet, many lawmakers don’t care about your constitutional rights.
A recent bill introduced in New Jersey a
Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis sig
Texas is like 27 other states in that it
Defending Rights & Dissent presents a new series of toolkits to help activists fight anti-protest bills in their state.
The Senate considered for the fourth time S1, which contains the Combating BDS Act. This unconstitutional bill passed 74 to 19.
The Senate is off to a bad start. The ve
Arkansas and Texas aren’t unique in having laws on the books aimed at penalizing supporters of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) for Palestinian rights. They are among 26 states to have enacted such laws. Arkansas and Texas have also joined another growing subset of states–those who face First Amendment challenges to their anti-BDS laws.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), is following in Cardin’s footsteps and has announced he will try to get the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act language into the budget. Anti-semitism is deplorable. And people should be aware of it. But this bill isn’t about combating anti-semitism, it’s about perverting federal civil rights law to silence supporters of Palestinian civil rights.
For two years now, we’ve fought to stop the unconstitutional Israel Anti-Boycott Act. And thanks to an outpouring of opposition from individuals like you, this First Amendment violating bill has been stalled. But now the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), is working behind the scenes to sneak the Israel Anti-Boycott Act into the must-pass end of the year spending bill.
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
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.