Action Needed: IL Anti-Boycott Bill

 Credit: Reuters

Credit: Reuters

Urgent Action Needed Wednesday, March 19, 2014 as Illinois Legislature Reassigns Anti-Boycott Bill to New Committee

After our vigorous call-in campaign March 4th, the Illinois Higher Education Committee postponed action on the anti-boycott bill.  Last Friday, the bill was reassigned to the Judiciary Committee and the bill may be up for discussion as early as TODAY Wednesday, March 19 at 3 p.m.  WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW. Illinois State Senate Bill 3017 would deny funding to public universities that support faculty members' participation in professional associations that boycott Israeli academic institutions.  It would, for example, prohibit a faculty member from getting funds to travel to an American Studies Association (ASA) meeting, even if that meeting is unrelated to the boycott, or the professor herself is opposed to the boycott. A college that defies this prohibition would lose all public funds for that academic year. This bill, which was previously assigned to the Higher Education Committee, has been re-assigned to the Judiciary Committee. A hearing of the Judiciary Committee at which the bill may be considered is scheduled for Wednesday, March 19, at 3pm.

IMMEDIATE ACTION IS NEEDED:  CALL SENATORS ON THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE NOW AND STATE YOUR OPPOSITION TO THE BILL.

- MAKE A CALL NOW to state your opposition to SB 3017 (talking points below)!

  • If your State Senator is on the Judiciary Committee, then we need you to call your Senator. You can check to see if your Senator is on the Judiciary Committee, and find the phone number for their Springfield office, here:

http://www.ilga.gov/senate/committees/members.asp?CommitteeID=1248 Click on the legislator’s name to find the phone number for their Springfield office.

For “talking points,” see below.

If you don’t know who your State Senator is, go to this link and type your address to find out:

http://www.elections.il.gov/districtlocator/addressfinder.aspx

  • If your Senator is not on the Judiciary Committee, then we need you to call the chair of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Kwame Raoul (D- Hyde Park). CALL (217) 782-5338. For “talking points,” see below.

- HELP SPREAD THE WORD:

  • Share this message as widely and as quickly as you can! Especially if your Senator is on the Judiciary Committee, we need you to help spread the word in your Senate district.
  • Try to get this information to people throughout the state - it important that this be a state-wide effort.

TALKING POINTS - TELL STATE SENATORS:

I am calling to oppose the Judiciary Committee Amendment to Senate Bill 3017 that seeks to punish certain constitutionally protected political speech in Illinois.

This amendment proposes that the legislature defund an Illinois state university which provides funds for membership, travel or lodging for any employee to attend activities of an academic entity which has issued a public resolution or statement supporting boycotting a country which is a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or higher education institutions in that country.

- This bill is unconstitutional because the Supreme Court has ruled that boycotts are protected First Amendment activities.

- The State cannot deny funding to universities because certain legislators don’t like the views that faculty and staff are expressing through protected First Amendment activities like boycotts.

- Legislative intrusion in academic decision-making undermines academics’ abilities to associate and exchange views with their colleagues.

- It is fiscally irresponsible and unconstitutional to condition funding for the Illinois university system on the university’s censorship of academic associations’ political viewpoints.

Thank you for taking action! Our organized response can help prevent this legislation from moving forward. Let’s keep up the pressure! 

The Illinois Coalition to Protect Academic Freedom and Free Speech was formed in response to anti-boycott legislation introduced in the Illinois State Senate.  The Coalition includes the Center for Constitutional RightsCAIR-ChicagoJewish Voice for Peace-ChicagoPalestine Solidarity Legal SupportAmerican Studies AssociationCommittee for a Just Peace in Israel and PalestinePalestine Solidarity Group-ChicagoArab-Jewish Partnership for Peace and Justice in the Middle EastCommittee Against Political RepressionFriends of Sabeel: North AmericaUnited States Palestinian Community Network,  American Friends Service Committee- Chicago, Just Foreign PolicyDefending Dissent Foundation, and other individuals.