Bill in Sacramento Threatens Freedom of Speech, Right to Boycott
Tell Your State Senator: Vote NO on AB 2844
Sign the letter
UPDATE 8/8/16: THE BILL IS STILL ALIVE! ANOTHER COMMITTEE HEARING IS SCHEDULED FOR AUGUST 11. PHONE OR EMAIL DIRECTLY TODAY!
Updated Action: If you have already signed the letter, please phone your State Senators (who serve on the Committee) and the Committee Chair. Second best would be to send a personal email. Please see contact info below. Short message: “AB 2844 is a thinly disguised attempt to criminalize economic boycotts. This is an attack on freedom of speech. Please vote no.”
If you have not already signed the letter, sign it today!
Sen. Jerry Hill (San Mateo coastline from Pacifica to the Ano Nuevo State Reserve and peninsula cities from South San Francisco to Sunnyvale)
Sacramento Office: (916) 651-4013
District Office: (650) 212-3313
Online email form
Sen. Jim Beall (Cupertino, Los Gatos, Campbell, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, and the San Jose communities of Willow Glen, Almaden, Evergreen, East San Jose, and Downtown)
Sacramento Office: (916) 651-4015
District Office: (408) 286-8318
Online email form
Committee Chair Sen. Ricardo Lara (Everyone should call or email)
Phone: (916) 651-4033 Online email form
<<<<< Original Action Alert >>>>>
Engaging in an economic boycott of “any sovereign nation or people recognized by the government of the United States” — like the anti-apartheid boycotts of South Africa in the 1980s — could become a felony under a proposed state law currently making its way through the legislature.
The bill — AB 2844 — is due to be taken up by the Senate Appropriations Committee in two weeks. Two local state senators serve on that committee. Sign the letter to urge Jerry Hill or Jim Beall to vote no.
While AB 2844 refers to “any … nation”, it goes on to say, “including but not limited to Israel.” And that’s the real motive behind this bill: To kill the growing Boycott, Diversment and Sanction (BDS) campaign aimed at ending Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.
As the Los Angeles Times noted:
“You don’t have to support the so-called Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to be troubled when state governments in this country penalize American citizens for their political speech. As the Supreme Court has recognized, boycotts are a form of speech, protected under the Constitution.” (For more complete background on this bill, we suggest you read the complete editorial)
If you agree that AB 2844 is troubling, then sign the letter to tell CA State Senators to vote no on the bill.
The Constitutional threats raised by the proposed legislation have been seen as so extreme that the bill has been revised six times. Now, instead of outright banning boycotts (which the Supreme Court has ruled is protected speech), the bill attempts to equate boycotts with discrimination. But the state already bans discrimination by companies with whom it enters into contracts. From the LA Times editorial again:
“This shift to an emphasis on individual rights may solve some of the 1st Amendment problems in earlier versions, but it also raises the question of why this proposed law is necessary at all. … Why is it necessary to reiterate what already is the law — and to throw in a specific mention of boycotts and Israel? … The proponents of this bill are desperately eager to single out and punish companies that engage in boycotts against Israel.”
Our elected representatives should not allow themselves to be drawn into this sham debate. Boycotts are legitimate forms of political activism and free speech. The proper way to address the issues raised by a boycott is to address the issues, not attack the tactic or try to smear those engaged in the boycott.
“Politicians are free to denounce BDS if they choose. But they must do so without infringing on the rights of their constituents.” (LA Times)
We agree. If you also agree, sign the letter and tell your state senator to vote no on AB 2844.
Telephone calls directly to their offices are also encouraged.
Sen. Jerry Hill 916.651.4013 || Sen. Jim Beall 916.651.4015