Groups Respond to Cuomo's Unconstitutional Executive Action on BDS


June 6, 2016, New York – Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order creating a blacklist of companies and other organizations abiding by boycott or divestment campaigns related to Israeli human rights abuses, mandating state agencies to divest themselves from such entities.

Governor Cuomo's executive order is the latest in a series of legislative attacks against the grassroots boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian freedom, including the introduction and/or passage of anti-BDS bills in Congress and more than two dozen states. 

CCR joined with other human rights and civil liberties groups to denounce Cuomo's action as an unconstitutional infringement on First-Amendment-protected activity:



BAHER AZMY, Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights

"Governor Cuomo's measure is illegitimate and an obvious pander. Procedurally, he sought to avoid any transparent debate about the centuries-old validity of boycott as a means of protest in this country. And on substance his 'enemies list' approach to suffocate opinions he and his financial supporters disapprove of is plainly unconstitutional in its McCarthyist vision. Nelson Mandela, who both understood the need to challenge state repression through economic pressure and who prioritized the Palestinian struggle for human rights would rightly be appalled by this craven pander to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's ugly agenda.”

KATHERINE FRANKE, Chair of the Board of Directors, Center for Constitutional Rights, and Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School:

"Governor Cuomo has decided that his moral compass points in the direction of Joseph McCarthy rather than Rosa Parks.” 

DONNA LIEBERMAN, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU):

Whenever the government creates a blacklist based on political views it raises serious First Amendment concerns, and this is no exception. We will be looking very closely at this executive order." 

REBECCA VILKOMERSON, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace:

"Shame on Governor Cuomo for using an anti-democratic executive order to push through a McCarthyite attack on a movement for justice. Boycotts have long been a tactic used by social justice movements to bring about urgently needed change for a more just and equal society, and the movement for Palestinian rights should not be singled out. This executive order shows how out of touch the political leadership is with the growing numbers of Americans who support the use of nonviolent tactics to achieve freedom and equality for Palestinians."

HANI GHAZI, Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel:

"The Palestinian-led BDS Movement calls on people to refuse to do business with institutions that profit from or are complicit with Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people. It is both unconstitutional and outrageous that Governor Cuomo has committed the State of New York to punishing those who wish to support basic human rights for the Palestinian people.  We will join with other New Yorkers in calling on Governor Cuomo to reverse his dangerous decision."


“When we started our boycott campaign against settlement profiteer Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories in 2009, Israeli officials dismissed the efforts of the BDS Movement as inconsequential. Seven years later we can see that our principled work is so effective that the Governor of New York has signed this anti-democratic and unconstitutional executive order. He is trying to stifle speech and to punish those using the time-honored non-violent tactic of boycott to hold Israel to account for its violations of human rights and international law. Governor Cuomo may think he can employ this bullying tactic to stop people and groups from using boycott and divestment to end Israel's occupation and its apartheid policies, but he has misread the law and underestimated our commitment to justice and equality."

DONNA NEVEL, Founding Member of Jews Say No!:

"Jews Say No! opposes injustice and apartheid and horrendous violations of human rights. Therefore, we boycott Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights. BDS enables people of conscience to play a meaningful role in the Palestinian struggle for justice. Governor Cuomo's executive order punishing those who are standing for justice through support of BDS is unethical and unconstitutional." 

The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Last modified 

June 6, 2016