The ACLU took to social media on Wednesday to refute Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) assertion that the rights group's opposition to his anti-boycott legislation is "baseless," and offer him some guidance on understanding the First Amendment.
The bill, S.1, advanced on Tuesday with the help of 25 Democrats, and includes the Combating BDS Act of 2019, which allows state or local governments to punish entities using boycotts, divestments, or sanctions to protest the Israeli government's policies.
While Rubio and others have continued to support the bill, the ACLU argues the anti-BDS measure "violates the core principle" at the heart of the Constitution's free speech protections. "The government cannot," the group notes, "dictate to its citizens which causes they can and can't support."
The Combating BDS Act encourages states to pass unconstitutional laws punishing businesses AND individuals who participate in politically motivated boycotts against Israel. These laws have already violated the First Amendment rights of teachers, newspapers, and even students.— ACLU (@ACLU) January 30, 2019
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Your bill violates the core principle of the First Amendment: The government cannot dictate to its citizens which causes they can and can’t support.— ACLU (@ACLU) January 30, 2019
That’s not “baseless” – it’s grounded in the Constitution, our history, and two recent federal court decisions.
We urge you and your colleagues to focus on protecting the First Amendment rights of Americans, rather than undermining them, @MarcoRubio. That means reconsidering the Combating BDS Act.— ACLU (@ACLU) January 30, 2019
Other advocacy groups have spoken out against S.1 as well, including Jewish Voice for Peace. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), meanwhile, is among the lawmakers who've opposed the measure. In a tweet this week, Sanders said, "we must defend every American's constitutional right to peacefully engage in political activity. It is clear to me that S.1 would violate Americans' First Amendment rights."