We’ve talked in previous Countdowns about efforts to pass national legislation that seeks to restrict and criminalize advocacy for Palestinian rights. While members of Congress engage in a process on the federal level to deny their constituents’ free speech as guaranteed by our Constitution, some states already have laws on the books that defy our cherished First Amendment. Targeting the movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel over its occupation and human rights abuses of Palestinians, these states passed what are commonly referred to as anti-BDS laws. In practice, those laws are trying to codify what we have known and fought against for a long time: the desire to create a free speech exception on Palestine. Thankfully, a main steward of free speech is on the case. The ACLU just announced they’re suing to challenge a Kansas law that “prohibits the state from entering into contracts with individuals or companies participating in a boycott of Israel.” As ACLU attorney Brian Hauss noted, “The government does not get to use its leverage to silence one side of the debate.” We agree.

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