The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) sent Illinois State Senators on the Higher Education Committee a letter on March 4, 2014 urging them to oppose pending legislation that would withhold state funding to colleges and universities that fund membership and activities in organizations supporting boycotts of certain countries, including Israel. According to Ira Silverstein, the legislation’s sponsor, Senate Bill 3017 was drafted in response to the American Studies Association’s recent resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
CCR urges lawmakers to recognize that this bill violates the First Amendment and threatens 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 similar bills proposed in several states “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 Illinois Judiciary Committee members a letter opposing the legislation on March 18, 2014 and another letter opposing a similar state resolution on April 1, 2014. The resolution was defeated on April 1, 2014.
See CCR's letter to Illinois State Senate Higher Education Committee members. See CCR's letters to Illinois Judiciary Committee members opposing the legislation and state resolution.
See CCR, NLG, and CAIR’s February 11, 2014 letter to United States Congress Members.
See CCR, NLG, and Defending Dissent Foundation's March 3, 2014 letter to Maryland Senators and Delegates.
See CCR and NLG’s February 20, 2014 letter to New York State Assembly Members.
See CCR and NLG’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.