Affirming Boycotts as First Amendment-Protected Speech

Posted by Tess Waggoner on July 17, 2019 in Blog


CONTACT: Tess Waggoner | |(202) 429-9210 

July 17, 2019 


WASHINGTON- Today, AAI welcomes the introduction of H.Res.496, which affirms the First Amendment-protected right of all Americans to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad.

The right to boycott is central to the political expression envisioned by the Founders when the First Amendment was added to the Constitution. Americans have a long and proud history of boycotts, from the Boston Tea Party to opposing apartheid in South Africa, and includes the instrumental Civil Rights Era boycotts which were planned in part by original cosponsor Representative Lewis himself.

H.Res.496 comes in the midst of organized efforts to stifle political expression in support of Palestinian human rights, including anti-boycott legislation on the books in 27 states and an anti-boycott Resolution voted on today in the House of Representatives. In that context, this affirmation of the rights of all Americans comes at a critical moment in our history. 

Executive Director Maya Berry stated,

“The current efforts to silence advocacy for Palestinian rights put politics above the Constitution. The need to affirm our values as Americans—that vigorous human rights advocacy is central to who we are—could not be more great. This statement by the cosponsors is a breath of fresh air, and affirms that all Americans have the right to engage in the political process as equal participants.” 

AAI would like to thank Representatives Ilhan Omar, John Lewis, and Rashida Tlaib for introducing and co-sponsoring this Resolution, and we call on all members of the House of Representatives to join them in standing up for the Constitution.