Legislation will penalize companies that choose not to invest in Israel for political reasons

The New Jersey Assembly voted 69-3-2 today on S1923, a bill that forbids investment from the state pension fund in any company that boycotts Israel or Israeli businesses. The bill poses a threat to free speech and free association by punishing companies for their political opinions.

The Senate passed the legislation unanimously in May. It will now head to Governor Chris Christie’s desk.

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NJ Public Policy Director Ari Rosmarin:

Ari Rosmarin

“The passage of S1923 represents a low point for the freedom of speech in New Jersey in recent years. The legislation tarnishes our constitutional rights and chills a time-honored form of political protest.

“If enacted, New Jerseyans will pay for government investigators to put their own beliefs under a microscope. The New Jersey Legislature has voted to bring back blacklists that single people out for their political opinions and punish people for what they say and believe.

“Despite claims to the contrary, this bill will not combat discrimination. It turns this state’s previous support for principled boycotts, like that of Apartheid South Africa, on its head. Now, if two companies don’t invest in Israel, only the one that has done so with political motivations will face sanctions. First Amendment-protected activity should not land anyone a spot on a government blacklist. This legislation, simply put, is anti-free speech and raises serious constitutional problems.

“No matter your political viewpoint or opinion on the conflict in the Middle East, our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and protest must come first. Lawmakers are free to choose sides in matters of international concern, but they cannot unilaterally punish New Jerseyans who disagree with their point of view.”