Statement on Cuomo's Anti-BDS Executive Order
June 06, 2016
Palestine Legal issued the following statement in response to Executive Order No. 157 Directing State Agencies And Authorities To Divest Public Funds Supporting BDS Campaign Against Israel, signed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on June 5:
Executive Order No. 157 is a blatantly unconstitutional attack on freedom of speech and establishes a dangerous precedent reminiscent of McCarthyism. It is unprecedented for a state to create a list of entities that support or engage in a First Amendment protected political activity, and deny them financial benefits because of it. Boycotts are a constitutionally-protected form of speech, association and assembly, and have a long history of being used successfully to address injustice and demand political change.
The State of New York may not punish businesses, organizations, and other entities because of their speech and political views. This executive order would chill First Amendment protected activities by requiring persons to avoid or renounce such activities before they can be considered beneficiaries of public funds. It will certainly invite legal challenges.