Congressional Legislation Criminalizes Boycotts of Israel and Other US Allies
Speech, media, and academic freedoms are protected by international and US constitutional law under the First Amendment.
Free expression of ideas and opinions are guaranteed in all relevant international human rights treaties, conventions and agreements.
America is a signatory to many of them, making their provisions the supreme law of the land under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2).
Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “(e)veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression…”
Article 20 prohibits use of propaganda for war. “(A)dvocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”
Freedom of expression and opinion are also affirmed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) – along with other international and regional standards.
Congress shall make no laws in violation of the US Constitution and international laws. Yet it happens time and again, along with US policymakers flagrantly violating rule of law principles repeatedly, operating solely by Washington rules.
Israel Anti-Boycott legislation was introduced in Congress last year – a flagrant First Amendment and international law violation.
Its original version exposed Israeli critics to severe penalties, including criminal prosecution and imprisonment for freely expressing protected views.
It sought to amend the 1979 Export Administration Act, prohibiting US individuals and enterprises from engaging in or supporting a boycott by a foreign country against any others allied with Washington – specifically with Israel in mind, notably by wanting legitimate BDS activities banned.
Reportedly, bipartisan congressional leaders intend including a measure in an end-of-year omnibus spending bill, criminalizing politically motivated boycotts of Israel or other US allies – a flagrant First Amendment and international law violation if enacted, as seems likely.
Last year’s unconstitutional Israel Anti-Boycott Act lacked enough congressional support to pass. It never got through committees for a House or Senate floor vote.
This year is different, bipartisan lawmakers circumventing the stand-alone legislative process by including a revised measure in a must-pass spending bill.
It’ll be voted on before the current congressional term adjourns sine die ahead of yearend. Though the measure’s text hasn’t been publicly released, the ACLU saw what’s being considered, saying:
“While (Capitol) Hill offices claim the First Amendment concerns have been resolved, and potential jail time has indeed been eliminated as a possible punishment, the bill actually does nothing to cure its free speech problems.”
“Furthermore, knowingly violating the bill could result in criminal financial penalties of up to $1 million.”
If this “legislation…pass(es), federal officials would have a new weapon at their disposal to chill and suppress speech that they found objectionable or politically unpopular” – what fundamental international laws and the First Amendment strictly prohibit.
Congressional legislation likely to pass and be signed into law by Trump amounts to “a full-scale attack on Americans’ First Amendment freedoms,” said the ACLU.
Unless protected, all other rights are threatened. A previous article explained the following:
In NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. (1982), a landmark civil rights case, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld the organization’s right to boycott white-owned businesses in Mississippi – protesting against segregation and racial injustice, its constitutional right.
The ruling stressed that states may not prohibit peaceful advocacy of a politically-motivated boycott, what First Amendment rights are all about.
In recent years, 26 states enacted legislation violating the Supreme Court’s ruling and fundamental First Amendment rights.
Another 13 states are considering similar legislation. They aim to delegitimize BDS activism, prohibiting it, falsely equating it to anti-Semitism.
If enacted into law, congressional legislation will do the same thing – subordinating constitutionally protected rights to Israel’s unlawful apartheid persecution of Palestinians, along with prohibiting criticism of other US allies.
Earlier this year, federal district courts in Arizona and Kansas struck down state laws, seeking to suppress legitimate criticism of Israel, including the right to boycott.
These courts upheld First Amendment free expression rights. Congressional legislation against the fundamental right to express views freely on any issues, no matter how controversial, will flagrantly breach the most fundamental of all rights if enacted into law – another major step toward totalitarian rule.
The current version of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act “is another page from the same (flagrantly) unconstitutional playbook,” the ACLU stressed.
In days, it may become the (unconstitutional) law of the land. The Supreme Court may be the final arbiter of this issue, perhaps next year.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”