Illinois Governor Signs Anti-BDS Bill Into Law
Yesterday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 1761, making Illinois the first state in the country to explicitly punish boycotts of Israel. The new law will set up a blacklist of companies that boycott Israel and require the state’s pension funds to divest from those companies. The law specifies that its intent is to only punish companies that are not based in the United States.
Illinois’ new law is troubling. Our local, state, and federal governments should be protecting and advancing human rights, not sanctioning companies taking a principled stance on a social justice issue. But it is crucial for BDS activists in Illinois and elsewhere to know the following:
- First, this new law does not affect your constitutionally-protected right to engage in human rights boycotts or to advocate for boycotts of Israel.
- Second, while we are concerned with this new law, an earlier iteration of SB 1761 was far more dangerous. Fortunately, it was watered down after a successful advocacy campaign by Palestine solidarity activists in Illinois, along with civil rights and civil liberties organizations. Without that organizing effort, we would have a far more troubling law.
- And finally, Palestine Legal is exploring possible legal challenges to this law. We continue to be concerned with the government’s use of financial levers to punish or dissuade certain speech, particularly speech in support of human rights, simply because the government disagrees with that speech.
If you have any questions or concerns about the new Illinois law, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.