Feb. 12, 2019
- The American Civil Liberties Union, which for decades defended the vulnerable against public discrimination, has begun an assault on several antidiscrimination laws in order to bring boycotts of Israel into the political mainstream.
- The ACLU has long argued that although private parties have the right to refuse to do business with people for ideological reasons, the government need not fund such conduct. “Taxpayer dollars must not fund discrimination” carried out by private parties, the ACLU has stated. It has successfully pushed measures banning the federal government from contracting with companies that engage in certain boycotts.
- The antiboycott laws the ACLU has defended are meant to protect gays and lesbians. Yet it inexplicably ignores that the logic of those antiboycott laws applies equally to Israel.
- The ACLU may think that refusing to do business with people because of their sexuality is immoral while refusing to do business with people connected with Israel is a blow for justice. But First Amendment protections are the same regardless of what one thinks of the underlying conduct.
- The ACLU’s enthusiasm for Israel boycotts has led it to take legal positions that threaten to undermine the antidiscrimination norms it has worked for decades to achieve. Now it is prepared to risk legal protections for sexual minorities for the sake of creating a constitutional right to boycott Jews.The writer is a professor at George Mason University’s School of Law and a director at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.