ACLU of New Jersey Policy Counsel Joe Johnson today released the following statement on bills S1292 and S2937, which would establish a state definition of antisemitism, create a public awareness campaign, appropriate $100,000, and require that definitions of antisemitism and islamophobia be included in the State's diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging policies, and in any such policy for recipients of State funds:

“ACLU-NJ condemns bias-based harassment or violence committed against all New Jerseyans, including Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities. However, as proponents of free speech, we should be concerned whenever the government forces people to accept its view of the world. The definition of antisemitism and the examples provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance that are used in both S1292 and S2937 risk conflating protected political speech with unprotected discrimination, creating a law that impinges on First Amendment rights. The government censoring or penalizing core political speech will lead to an unconstitutional chilling of protected speech in workplaces, at schools and universities, in public protests, rallies, and more. Additionally, requiring every entity receiving State funds to endorse a particular belief – even if that belief did not itself chill protected speech – also violates core free speech tenets. For these reasons we cannot support either S1292 or S2937 in their current forms.”

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