Letter: Rights groups appeal to the Maryland Senate and House to Oppose Anti-Boycott Bills

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The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Maryland and D.C. chapters of the National Lawyers Guild, and the Defending Dissent Foundation sent Maryland Senators and Delegates a letter on March 3, 2014 urging them to oppose pending legislation that would reduce state funding to colleges and universities that fund membership and activities in organizations supporting boycotts of certain countries, including Israel.  According to the legislation’s supporters, Senate Bill 647 and House Bill 998 were drafted in response to the American Studies Association’s recent resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions. 

CCR, the Maryland and D.C. chapters of the NLG, and Defending Dissent urge lawmakers to recognize that these bills violate the First Amendment and threaten academic freedom “by penalizing universities and faculty for taking public positions based on their political and moral principles.” The letter stresses that by giving legislators the power to censor academic exchange, these bills “cast exactly the ‘pall of orthodoxy’ on academics and their institutions on matters of public concern that the Supreme Court has warned against.”
 
The American Studies Association endorsed a resolution in December 2013 to boycott Israeli academic institutions in protest of the central role that they play in Israel’s denial of Palestinian human rights, in an effort to contribute to the larger movement for social justice in Israel/Palestine. The ASA resolution calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is available here, and an explanation of the resolution is available here.

CCR sent Maryland legislators a letter opposing a similar budget amendment on April 2, 2014.

See our letter to Maryland Senators and Delegates.  See our letter opposing the budget amendment.

See CCR’s February 11, 2014 letter to the United States Congress Members.

See CCR’s February 20, 2014 letter to New York State Assembly Members.

See CCR’s January 30, 2014 letter to New York State Assembly Members.
 
See CCR’s statement on the bill’s passage in the New York state senate.
 
For more information on the legality of academic boycott, please see Palestine Solidarity Legal Support’s frequently asked questions.