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"The Senate just passed a bill that would encourage states to adopt unconstitutional laws aimed at suppressing boycotts of Israel. It's a sad day when the Senate chooses politics over the Constitution," the ACLU said following the Senate's vote on Tuesday. (Photo: Mark Apollo/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Senate Accused of Endorsing 'McCarthy-Era Tactics' as 25 Democrats Join GOP to Pass Anti-Boycott Bill

"Should the House take up similar legislation, we urge members to remove the Combating BDS Act from the package of bills due to the threat it poses to all Americans' First Amendment right to boycott," the ACLU said

Jake Johnson, staff writer

After 25 Democratic senators joined the GOP on Tuesday to pass legislation that would empower states to punish companies and individuals who boycott Israel to protest its occupation of Palestinian territories, rights groups and civil libertarians condemned the Senate for voting to "trample on the First Amendment" and urged the House to block the bill.

"The Senate just passed a bill that would encourage states to adopt unconstitutional laws aimed at suppressing boycotts of Israel. It's a sad day when the Senate chooses politics over the Constitution," the ACLU declared following the 77-23 vote. "Senators who voted for the bill: we encourage you to read the Constitution, which protects against the McCarthy-era tactics this bill endorses."

"The anti-boycott bill is an attack on Americans' First Amendment rights," added The Institute for Middle East Understanding. "Political boycotts have always played a pivotal role in US history: From the Montgomery Bus Boycott to the campaign to divest from apartheid South Africa."

Here are the 25 Democrats—including Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who caucuses with the Democratic Party—who voted with the GOP to send the anti-boycott legislation to the House:

Bennet (D-Colo.)
Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Cardin (D-Md.)
Casey (D-Pa.)
Coons (D-Del.)
Cortez Masto (D-Nev.)
Duckworth (D-Ill.)
Hassan (D-N.H.)

Jones (D-Ala.)
King (I-Maine)
Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Menendez (D-N.J.)
Murray (D-Wash.)
Rosen (D-Nev.)
Peters (D-Mich.)

Schumer (D-N.Y.)
Sinema (D-Ariz.)
Smith (D-Minn.)
Stabenow (D-Mich,)
Tester (D-Mont.)
Warner (D-Va.)
Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
Wyden (D-Ore.)

While arguing that the passage of Senate Bill 1 (S.1) made Tuesday an "ugly day for the Senate," The Intercept's Ryan Grim pointed out that every "serious" 2020 presidential contender voted against the legislation, including Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

"That tells you a lot about the politics of Israel in the Democratic Party [right now]," Grim wrote on Twitter.

Here are the 23 senators who voted against S.1:

Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Booker
(D-N.J.)
Brown
(D-Ohio)
Carper
(D-Del.)
Durbin
(D-Ill.)
Feinstein
(D-Calif.)
Gillibrand
(D-N.Y.)
Harris
(D-Calif.)

Heinrich (D-N.M.)
Hirono
(D-Hawaii)
Kaine
(D-Va.)
Leahy
(D-Vt.)
Markey
(D-Mass.)
Merkley
(D-Ore.)
Murphy
(D-Conn.)
Paul
(R-Ky.)


Reed (D-R.I.)
Sanders
(I-Vt.)
Schatz
(D-Hawaii)
Shaheen
(D-N.H.)
Udall
(D-N.M.)
Van Hollen
(D-Md.)
Warren
(D-Mass.)

Sponsored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), S.1 is a package of foreign policy bills that includes $38 billion in military aid to Israel as well as the so-called Combating BDS Act, which would give states and localities more legal authority to penalize companies and individuals who participate in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The ACLU, which has called the Combating BDS Act "unconstitutional," urged the House to strip the Combating BDS Act from the legislative package.

"Should the House take up similar legislation, we urge members to remove the Combating BDS Act from the package of bills due to the threat it poses to all Americans' First Amendment right to boycott," the organization concluded.


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