“Dangerous precedent for free speech”: NJ Gov. Chris Christie signs law punishing boycotts of Israel

From Salon – by Ben Norton:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed bipartisan-backed legislation that will punish groups that endorse a boycott of Israel in protest of its violations of Palestinian human rights. Christie, who is one of the most outspoken supporters of far-right Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, signed the bill on Tuesday.

It requires the New Jersey government to identify companies that support a boycott of Israel, raising fears that it would create a “blacklist” of institutions that back the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, movement.

Under the new law, the State Investment Council, which manages more than $80 billion in pension assets, is legally obligated to divest from these blacklisted companies.

Legal groups say the legislation is likely unconstitutional.

The state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, blasted the legislation as “a dangerous precedent for New Jerseyans’ free speech.” It warned that the bills, S1923/A925, raise “serious constitutional concerns.”

“The ACLU-NJ strongly opposed this blacklist bill, and we now strongly oppose this blacklist law,” said Alexander Shalom, a senior staff attorney at the civil liberties group, in a statement.

“This legislation requires the state to punish companies because of the beliefs people there hold rather than any action they have taken,” he explained.

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