FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Gov. Cuomo’s Anti-BDS Bill is a First Amendment Nightmare

On June 5 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law an executive order aimed at the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. BDS is a non-violent economic and political protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

In Cuomo’s order, which Salon reporter Ben Norton called “McCarthyite,” there is a provision that requires the state to create a list of companies that participate in the BDS movement. The list aims to publicly shame and financially harm those who exercise their First Amendment right of political protest.

And though Cuomo’s order will not stand up to a challenge in court, the list itself will cause extreme harm and damage- and that’s the plan.

Within the next 180 days, the Commissioner of General Services of the state of New York will deliver the initial list of BDS- participating companies to the governor. The list will be placed online for the public’s viewing. Companies are allowed to appeal their placement for 90 days in advance of their placement.

As Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman described it in The Intercept:

Cuomo’s Executive Order requires that one of his Commissioners compile “a list of institutions and companies” which – “either directly or through a parent or subsidiary” – support a boycott. That government list is then posted publicly, and the burden falls on them to prove to the state that they do not, in fact, support such a boycott.

Note- the language Greenwald and Fishman cite in the accompanying image to this paragraph appears to indicate companies have time to appeal their placement prior to public posting, not after

Once a company is on the list, they can appeal for removal from the list. The list will be updated every 180 days.

Draconian stuff.

Even if the legislation doesn’t survive the inevitable legal challenges on its merits, the creation of such a list will have irreversible consequences.

One of the lingering after-effects of the Hollywood blacklist in the McCarthy era of the 1950s was the difficulty of the wrongly accused to find work, decades after the list had been closed. Despite the efforts of the Hollywood Ten, the breaking of the list did not result in the immediate reinstatement to work of those on the list.

Some would go without work for years due to their association with the blacklist and, by proxy, Communism. Even after the country by and large had rejected the blacklist and McCarthyite scaremongering, the ostracization of those associated with the list remained in place.

It’s for this reason that Cuomo’s legislation is so dangerous.

First Amendment rights of association and political protest are designed specifically to combat government interference. Cuomo’s anti- BDS law is an obvious and blatant violation of those rights. It will be struck down in court.

But if it is not struck down in time, if the courts do not manage to issue a stay on its implementation, or if the NY state bureaucracy can tie up the legal system while putting the order into effect, the list will exist. And once it exists, the damage will have been done.

Even when the law is struck down, the stigma of being associated with this draconian law will linger. Just as those who were on the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s found it hard to find work for years after the list was broken, so too will businesses that are tied to BDS in NY state find it difficult to survive in the American economy.

Which is exactly the point. Cuomo wants the fear of that stigma to do the work of the law, no matter the outcome in the courts.

More articles by:

Eoin Higgins has a master’s degree in history from Fordham University. He lives in New York.

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail