The following statement was issued by the Illinois ACLU against SJR 59, State Sen. Silverstein's resolution condemning academic boycotts.
Update: the statement is now posted on the Illinois ACLU website here.
To: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Re: Senate Joint Resolution 59
The ACLU of Illinois opposes Senate Joint Resolution 59, a resolution that calls upon all Illinois college and university presidents to publicly condemn academic boycotts.
A boycott is an important and powerful form of protected expressive association protected by the First Amendment. Speech and nonviolent picketing in support of a boycott encompasses the practice of people sharing common views banding together to achieve a common end, a practice deeply embedded in the American political process. By this collective effort, individuals can make their views known when, individually, their voices would be faint or lost. In emphasizing the importance of the freedom of association in guaranteeing the right of people to make their voices heard on public issues, the U.S. Supreme Court has noted that effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association, NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982).
There is no basis in law or policy to exempt academic institutions from boycotts. Would Illinois support a resolution guarding Bob Jones University from a boycott when, in the 1970’s because of its interpretation of Biblical principles regarding interracial dating, Bob Jones University completely excluded black applicants? We expect not.
The following is a press release from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2014
Adam Sarvana (Grijalva) – (202) 225-2435
Mike Casca (Ellison) – (202) 225-4755
CPC CO-CHAIRS CALL FOR CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT ON DRONES: HUMAN RIGHTS MUST BE A PRIORITY
WASHINGTON — Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) released the following statement after a vote by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the use of drones:
“Today’s vote at the United Nations reinforces the need for greater oversight of the U.S. drone program. Instead of working closely with the international community to help strengthen current international standards on the use of drones, the U.S. government decided to boycott a discussion of the draft resolution. We are troubled by the ease with which dialogue and diplomacy—values at the center of the president’s foreign policy—were cast aside in this debate.
“Our national security would be stronger with international standards regarding the use of drones. No country has a monopoly on armed drone technology. As of 2011, 76 nations had drone technology of some kind. It is clearly in our interest to help establish the norms and rules that will govern the use of drones by all nations in the future.
“Similarly, it’s important to ensure that the American people and our allies understand the legal justification and on-the-ground impact of our drone policy. The current lack of transparency harms our relationships with other countries and erodes our ability to collaborate on key global security issues.
The Obama Administration has established a new precedent by implementing sanctions against Russian officials for violations of international law in the wake of Russia’s occupation and annexation of Crimea. So we thought: let's get civil society organizations in the United States and around the world to invoke this precedent in calling U.S. officials to account for the U.S.'s own violations of international law!
John Brennan, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, is playing a central role in shielding the agency from accountability to international law on three key issues: the CIA's use of torture during the Bush Administration; the CIA’s use of drone strikes; and the CIA’s arming of Syria rebels, which the Obama Administration has acknowledged is a violation of Syria’s sovereignty under international law,  just as Russia’s actions in Crimea violate Ukraine’s sovereignty under international law.
Join us in calling for boycott and sanctions on John Brennan until the CIA takes concrete steps to comply with international law by signing our petition at MoveOn:
Here is the petition text:
John Brennan, head of the Central Intelligence Agency, should be subject to boycott and sanctions for the CIA's failure to comply with U.S. and international law. John Brennan should not receive any award, honor, or recognition until the CIA takes concrete, minimal steps to transparently comply with U.S. and international law, including:
- supporting declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on the CIA's use of torture and the CIA's internal “Panetta review” on the CIA's use of torture;
Note: this memo is primarily aimed at tech-savvy kids, not at old fogie technophobe Luddites. If you are a technophobe, move along, nothing to see here.
Background: the world has changed, right? We do online petitions now. It's more efficient on both sides of the interaction - easier to pass, easier to sign; you don't have to mess around with re-copying or trying to read people's illegible handwriting (speaking as a top offender of illegible handwriting); if you sign on your own device, you probably have your own information already saved in your browser, which makes signing go tschik-tschok, as they say in Hebrew.
OK, but we still want to pass petitions at events. Does that mean we have to go back to pen and paper?
You know how when you ride the Amtrak, and sometimes on planes, they use QR codes, so you don't need a paper ticket. You just hold up your smart phone showing your electronic ticket with the QR code on it and the conductor/airline employee uses a QR reader to capture the information from your electronic ticket's QR code.
We can use this technology for online petitions too. You generate a QR code for the website that has the petition on it, you point a smart phone (or laptop's) camera at it, and after the image is captured, the smartphone jumps to the URL of the petition site, where you can sign the petition on your smartphone.
The smartphone or laptop has to have a QR reader installed. But you can easily download QR readers for free. Just go to the app store on your device, search for "QR reader", and choose one of many free options. On my iPhone, I have installed the free QRReader app.
So, with that background concluded, here is the ask. I'm going to try to get signers on the Illinois anti-anti-boycott petition at Rabbi Brant Rosen's talk tonight at UIUC, using a QR code that Just Foreign Policy has generated for the petition's website.
Two ways you can help me test:
Sen. Menendez has lent his pen to AIPAC yet again by drafting a new letter that reintroduces the old zero enrichment demand by calling on President Obama to insist that Iran has no right to enrichment and that any final deal must dismantle Iran's inaccurately-referred-to “nuclear weapons program.” And if that's not bad enough: Sen. Lindsey Graham co-wrote the letter.
During their annual conference, thousands of AIPAC activists were on the Hill telling your Senators to sign the Menendez-Graham letter. Now they need to hear from you.
Call your Senators at 1-855-686-6927 and say
I urge Sen. ____ not to sign the Menendez-Graham letter that could scuttle President Obama's Iran diplomacy by imposing unreasonable terms on a final deal.
After you make your call, tell us how it went below.