CCR and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support Respond to the New York Senate’s Passage of Anti-Boycott Bill

January 29, 2014, New York  – The New York Senate passed S.6438, legislation drafted in response to the ASA resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions, yesterday afternoon.  The legislation would defund academic entities which choose to boycott, imposing an unfair price on protest by students and academics at public institutions across New York.

In response to the New York Senate’s passage of S.6438, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS) issued the following statement by PSLS Director and CCR Cooperating Counsel, Dima Khalidi:

The anti-boycott bill targets core political speech and raises serious constitutional red flags.  If this bill goes forward it is likely to face constitutional challenge in the courts. 
Boycotts to bring about political and social change, which would be targeted by this bill, are unquestionably protected speech under the First Amendment. Our country has a long tradition of boycotts, from the Montgomery bus boycott led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the boycott of Apartheid South Africa, recently celebrated at the passing of President Nelson Mandela.
Courts have been very clear that the denial of funding, where motivated by a desire to suppress speech, is prohibited by the First Amendment. 
For more information on the legality of academic boycott, please see Palestinian Solidarity Legal Support’s frequently asked questions
Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS) engages in coordinated and strategic legal advocacy to protect and advance the constitutional rights of Palestinian human rights activists across the U.S.  PSLS is an initiative built in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in collaboration with the National Lawyers Guild and other groups.  We aim to build the power of activists to withstand the concerted assault on free speech and continue advocating for Palestinian human rights. PSLS documented over 100 repression incident in 2013 alone, the majority of which targeted academic discussion or political activity on college campuses.

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at


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January 29, 2014