The First Amendment Protects the Right to Boycott Israel

Earlier this week, the ACLU sent a letter to members of Congress opposing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act. The bill would amend existing law to prohibit people in the United States from supporting boycotts targeting Israel — making it a felony to choose not to engage in commerce with companies doing business in Israel and its settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Violations would be punishable by a civil penalty that could reach $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

The bill is aimed at advocates of boycotts targeting Israel, most notably the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement — a global campaign that seeks to apply economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with international law. Specifically, the bill sponsors intend the act as a response to the U.N. Human Rights Council’s 2016 resolution calling on companies to respect human rights, including in occupied Palestinian territories.

No matter what you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one thing is clear: The First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.

In fact, the right to boycott is one of the brightest stars in our constitutional firmament. The American Revolution was founded on boycotts against British goods to protest excessive taxes. John Jay led a boycott against New York merchants who engaged in the slave trade. And the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955–1956 was a major turning point in the struggle for civil rights in the Jim Crow South. In the 1970s and 1980s, colleges and universities led a widespread campaign to boycott and divest from South Africa, in protest of apartheid. In 2015, football players at the University of Missouri went on strike until the school addressed acute racial tensions on campus. And North Carolina’s law prohibiting transgender people from accessing restrooms and other facilities consistent with their gender identities sparked massive boycotts by businesses and individuals.

Boycotts are a form of collective action that allows ordinary people to make their voices heard. For precisely this reason, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to boycott. The court’s landmark decision in NAACP v Claiborne Hardware Co. affirmed the constitutional right of NAACP activists to hold a mass economic boycott of white-owned businesses in Port Gibson, Mississippi, to protest the community’s persistent racial inequality and segregation. In ringing language, the court held that the boycotters’ exercise of their rights to “speech, assembly, and petition . . . to change a social order that had consistently treated them as second-class citizens” rested “on the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”

No matter what you think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, one thing is clear: The First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.

This is a proud constitutional legacy. Today, though, the right to boycott is under assault. Over the past several years, federal, state, and local legislators have introduced wave after wave of legislation seeking to stamp out boycotts and divestment campaigns aimed at Israel. One such law, passed earlier this year by Nassau County in New York, prohibits the county from doing business with people who support the BDS movement. As a result, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame could be banned from playing at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. Similar laws have been passed in Arizona and Kansas.

None of them comport with the First Amendment.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act introduced in Congress goes a step further, threatening severe civil and criminal punishment against individuals who refrain from doing business with Israel because of their political opposition to its government’s actions. The bill amends two existing laws, the Export Administration Act of 1979 and the Export-Import Bank Act of 1945, which prohibit certain boycotts sponsored by foreign governments.

The bill would expand the application of those laws in a number of ways. It would expand the laws to prohibit boycotts called for by international organizations, like the United Nations and the European Union; it would threaten sanctions against people who boycott businesses operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; and it would prohibit even requests for information about companies’ business relationships with Israel and Israeli companies. This expansive language would likely chill a wide range of political activity in the United States directed at the Israeli government — activity that is constitutionally protected, regardless whether members of Congress agree with it.

A number of the bill’s sponsors were apparently surprised by the ACLU’s free speech concerns with the bill. Several of them have now expressed their intention to review the legislation with the ACLU’s civil rights and civil liberties concerns in mind. We hope they do the right thing by backing away from any bill that violates our First Amendment rights.

This post was updated to reflect the fact that $250,000 is not the minimum civil penalty for violating the law. Rather, the maximum civil penalty is either $250,000 or twice the amount of the money at issue in the alleged violation, whichever is greater.

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Eli Samuel Goldman

Open letter to Lisa Marie Presley:--a woman who last I saw in the media needs to go on an extended diet before she has congestive heart failure and diabetes--like to teach people like me a harsh lesson for having private conversations in their own home and having read out of curiosity web sitesthat say unflattering things about her drug addict pedophine racist father, like everyone else, Elvis Presley. Since Lisa likes to use her money, power and influence just like Trump to have people (me) abused, Id like to reiterate the facts as published since the 70s about her pedophile father. Now, most of my life I had nothing bad to say about her family till Claremore OK, where it became known to me that I was being used to market property and products owned by her and her family. When I responded in anger inmy own private home against the illegal forced promotions, the series of negative never ending events started happening. My guess is that while the show was violating my rights, and privacy, having people abuse me, and letting people steal from me, Lisa Marie didn't like me venting my frustration and decided to use her influence to join in on the gang-bang of stars and powerful people steaming from and using me, and having me abused. I'm not surprised. Her father the drug addict abused her mother, and apparently she's an abuser like dear old dad. Let's start with Elvis Presley the pedophile. He hooked up with her mother when she was 12 and married her at age 15. According to what I've read including articles citing her mother personally Elvis was abusive and controlling to Lisa's mom, and cheated on her regularly. Age of the girl was not a factor as much as looks. Elvis was full of shit; as one example Elvis took Karate for about a week and declared himself a Black belt. In stark contrast I took Tae Kwon Do for hours almost every day just under 3 years in my youth and I'm a redbelt with 1 stripe (equal to purple belt, one belt and two tests below black belt). But I guess when you're "the King", if you want to be a blackbelt, they call you a black belt. Elvis stole/copied his moves and music style from African American artist frequenting historically black clubs then mainstreamed it, profiting far more than the underpaid black artists of his day, people like my father. But in his private life, Elvis was well know to say anti-Semitic and racist remarks and hung out with racists. Elvis was plagued, however, by health issues, many due to extreme obeisity. To reduce his weight he took large amounts of drugs, including amphetamines. When he died, the King diedvon his throne (the toilet, result of drug use and poor health from obeisity) clutching a half-eaten peanut butter and bananna sandwich in one hand, and amphetamine pills in the other. He was found on the bathroom floor with a logof poop hanging out his glutious maximus. --In closing, Public Enemy did a fitting eulogy to Elvis Presley in their song " Fight the Power." Elvis, was a hero to most but he never meant shit to me, straight up racist..." Now in my younger years before the show had nothing against Elvis Presley, but that's before I knew what a complete piece of shit he and his daughter were/is.

Eli Samuel Goldman

And personally, Lisa Marie Presley, I think your mother deserved better than your prick father. She was his whore, his possession and his baby maker... Not his wife and equal through their marriage by all accounts including hers. Just FYI, bitch.

Eli Samuel Goldman

The world painted me to be just like a man who is the exact opposite of me in life, situation, views and actions and treated me like I was Trump because unlike Trump I was pacifistic kind and poor so therefore vulnerable and an easy target, while Trump is cruel, vengeful and super wealthy and connectioned. So the cowards who hated Trump were too much of a whimp to fight Trump so they attacked me, the person opposing him that he made his decoy to stop my opposition and have my own people attack me instead because they were all too chickenshit to fight Trump. I've realize since I'm characterized to be like Trump and attacked mercilessly for it I better be more like Trump and less like the kind caring giving loving person I wasy whole life. I hope the fat bitch Lisa Marie Presley understands the need for this transition since she helped facilitate it. Oh, by the way you gold digging whore Lisa...only 3 weeks to marry Michael Jackson and acquire the Jackson money and name after the completely outdated Presley name waned? 3 weeks from first divorce to marriage of Michael? We're you fucking Michael during your marriage? It seems likely since it takes a while to get a man to agree to marriage usually. Perhaps the fact you couldn't keep your legs closed contributed to your divorce, Lisa.

Eli Samuel Goldman

Thanks to your contribution to my life Lisa Marie Presley I'm going to give you lots of real reasons to hate me now you fat bitch. Now you'll actually HAVE a reason. If Im innocent and Im going to do the time, I'm going to commit the crime i did the time for. (My African American father's philosophy)

Eli Samuel Goldman

Lisa Marie Presley, Trump says I have a freedom of speech right to protest all you gold digging fat whores, as well as the spicks, the nips, the chinks, the greasy oily bohunks, the greedy Kikes, the towelhead camel jockeys, the dot-headed cow worshippers, the wagon burning feather-headed redskinned uncivilized drunken devils, the lazy wet backs, the bug eater shiftless redheaded carrot tops and thieving Micks, the watermelon eating basketball playing porch monkeys, the blond bimbo airheaded viking descendant socialist Swedish meatball-heads and their Prostitute drug addict Nordic cousins, the maplebar dudely-do-nothing canadian-pig-eaters, the Persian terrorist-rug-makers, the Cuban sell-their-children-for-a-dollar commies, the Ruski-red-menace, the Korean pet-dog-eaters, the Vietcong descendant spam munchers, the perverted beer swilling krouts, and various other shitbags. And damnit, even if those "half-a-sissy-faggots" (a Joe Pesci quote) and carpet muncher bulldykes object, as an American and hence thereby superior to all others by birth and devine right I'm gonna exercise my freedom of speech, the way the great Donald J. Trump intended it!

Eli Samuel Goldman

They got it wrong, the pedophile Elvis Presley met Pricillawhen she was 12 and started banging her at age 14, and he was friends with fellow pedophile Jerry Lee Lewis who married his 12 year old cousin. Pedophiles of a feather flock together. Must be a Southern thing. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2013/08/16/sensational-scandals-sear-rock-royalty/2625771/

Eli Samuel Goldman

I sometimes wonder how you were born Lisa Marie, I mean when your mom got to be too old to be attractive to Elvis (over 17 years old) he refused to have sex with her and preferred to Jack off to couples having sex he watch through a two way mirror. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2834948/Elvis-sex-secrets-exposed-Priscilla-couldn-t-tempt-black-negligee-loved-virgins-watching-girls-mud-wrestle-white-panties-spying-couples-two-way-mirror-Hollywood-home.html

Eli Samuel Goldman

It's amazing how many young women screwing Elvis Presley talk about his violent streak, drug and alcohol addiction, and porn collection. http://radaronline.com/photos/elvis-presley-dark-side-singer-secret-hell-porn-drugs-violence-linda-thompson-memoir/?utm_source=OKMag&utm_medium=AMIPartner&utm_campaign=august

Eli Samuel Goldman

Lisa Marie Presley seems OK that her husband Michael Jackson liked to sleep naked with other peoples small children invited to neverland ranch, when he wasnt dangerously hanging his newborn baby out a top story window like the Lion King. She seems to have a thing for drug addicts and child molesters like her father. http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/pop/7424014/michael-jackson-child-molestation-trial-journalists-remember Not to mention all the new people coming forward to state Michael Jackson molested them. http://m.tmz.com/2016/10/25/michael-jackson-lawsuit-child-sexual-abuse/

Eli Samuel Goldman

It's just a shame Lisa Marie that you don't know what it's like to be robbed of Billions and Billions of dollars and other currencies by Trump's moron supporters while being abused daily by them.

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