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Constitutionally Dubious 'Anti-Semitism Awareness Act' Unanimously Passed by Senate

Who says bipartisanism is dead?

Do-something CongressSergey Kohl/Dreamstime.comThe machinery of government typically works glacially slow, but the Senate didn't miss a moment to pass the "Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2016" just two days after it was introduced by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC), and later co-sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

S-10, as it will forever be known in the Congressional record, passed by unanimous consent last Thursday, and a companion bill has been sent to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

As noted here at Reason last week, the bill is both contradictory and constitutionally problematic. In trying to give the Department of Education (DOE) "the necessary statutory tools at their disposal to investigate anti-Jewish incidents" on college campuses, the bill attempts to conflate "unfair" political opposition to Israel with anti-Semitism. In doing so, it misses the point that things like holding Israel to "a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation" and even something is repugnant as Holocaust denial are protected speech under the First Amendment.

The bill doesn't make anti-Semitism (or any form of bigotry) illegal, but its intent is to "provide for the consideration of a definition of anti-Semitism for the enforcement of Federal anti-discrimination laws concerning education programs or activities," which it justifies by invoking Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which "prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin."

So, if it's just a tool to help the DOE investigate allegations of anti-Semitic violence on campus, what's the constitutional objection to the bill?

It's that it gives the federal government the authority to investigate ideas, thoughts, and political positions as violations of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By specifically using the broad language of a 2010 State Department memo attempting to define anti-Semitism, the Senate bill wades into thought policing.

Seemingly anticipating the arguments of pesky critics with a rudimentary understanding of the First Amendment, the very last section of the bill includes this provision:

Nothing in this Act, or an amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Photo Credit: Sergey Kohl/Dreamstime.com

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  • Citizen X||

    The World's Greatest Duhbliblerbative Body, folks.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    Nothing in this Act, or an amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

    Oh, well, that's alright then.

  • commodious got a stew going||

    "...as interpreted by unelected executive bodies such as the OCR."

  • Curt||

    The beauty of the phrase is that it ensures that the Act can never be considered unconstitutional. Sure, some jerk offs may enforce it in an unconstitutional manner (and be replaced by someone else who will do the same), but the Act itself can never be unconstitutional.

    Brilliant!

  • retiredfire||

    Such stupid shit is the legislative equivalent of "with all due respect" and "not to be critical".
    "We're going to tell you what you can't say but don't admit it violates your right to say what you want."

  • AlmightyJB||

    This just proves what conspiracy theorist already know. Lol

  • CZmacure||

    (((Congress)))

  • AlmightyJB||

    Lol. I just learned about the parenthesis yesterday.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    *whispers* Renegade is a jew!!!

  • AlmightyJB||

    Jewish comedians hardest hit

  • TheZenomeProject||

    Why I'm a big fan of gridlock: if the left and the right agree on something, it's likely because the law is vague enough to be the worst of both worlds. As far as government is concerned IMO, the right answer to problems is usually not in the middle.

  • ||

    ...the right answer to problems is usually not in the middle.

    Except in regards to a chick's legs, amirite?

    #nofemalelibertarians

  • TheZenomeProject||

    The key word is "chick", not the safe space underneath Lena and Amy.

  • Zeb||

    If mention of a chick's legs makes you think of those two right off the bat, you should probably do something about your odd obsession.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    But staring at dumpster fires is fun! (Warning: Gross) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H51HuNX41Fg

  • commodious got a stew going||

    Funny or Die

    I choose the latter, thanks.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I take solace in knowing that video (in part) cost her the election.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    I wanted her to pack her bags and run to Vancouver like she initially sweared that she would do, but now I want her to stay. She helps give moonbats and the progs that they support the awful reputation that they so richly deserve.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    That's not where your butthole is.

  • Tundra||

    Actually, the beginning of lot of problems...

  • Ron||

    SO they wrote another law that is self voiding but people will still find a way to use it against anyone they disslike

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    related

    http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/03/.....ti-semite/

    likely new leader of DNC called anti-semite and anti-Israel by dem super-donor:

    "If you go back to his positions, his papers, his speeches, the way he has voted, he is clearly an anti-Semite and anti-Israel individual," the Israeli-American said Friday about the Minnesota lawmaker. "Words matter and actions matter more. Keith Ellison would be a disaster for the relationship between the Jewish community and the Democratic Party."

  • JeremyR||

    Well, read the Koran. It's not exactly complimentary towards Jews

  • ||

    You know who else wasn't exactly complimentary towards the Jews...

  • Pan Zagloba "The Stickler"||

    King Edward I?

  • ||

    Shakespeare?

  • juris imprudent||

    Isabella and Ferdinand?

  • juris imprudent||

    The Third French Republic?

  • Mr. Paulbotto||

    Tomás de Torquemada?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Mel Gibson?

  • DEATFBIRSECIA||

    Kareem Abdul Lavash? At least for most of the movie.

  • dschwar||

    Haman? (from the book of Esther)

  • CZmacure||

    The Romans?

  • retiredfire||

    Mike Godwin?

  • AlmightyJB||

    The Bible doesn't exactly paint a favourable picture of the Jews either. Except that one guy. He was cool.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Hey, not just the one guy. There were most of the apostles, Mary, and some other members of the club, too.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Koran gives more love to Mary than the Bible does. At least more than the Canon.

  • I can't even||

    Muhommed loves lots of chicks in the Koran.

  • ||

    And a few of them even submitted willingly!

  • ant1sthenes||

    I never really understand exactly what the hell it means by "the Jews" in the gospels given that all of the principals and authors (?) are Jewish, and presumably thought of themselves as such. There's got to be some connotation there (the Jewish PTB? Nationalists?) that is lost in translation.

  • ant1sthenes||

    OTOH, plenty of American citizens are happy to talk shit about "America", so...

  • AlmightyJB||

    Even when they're bragging of their exploits, they don't come off so well.

  • AlmightyJB||

    In the tribal society of the day, the ethics and morality applied within the tribe not outside. While God gave the Ten Commandments, he also told the tribes to attack their neighbours, take their land, slaughter the men, and enslave the women and children. Doesn't translate well to the mores of today.

  • ant1sthenes||

    But there's also a line in there somewhere equating care for foreigners with widows and orphans, IIRC. I think, just like today, dealing with foreigners individually tended to be governed by rules of hospitality, while dealing with them collectively tended to be governed by realpolitik.

  • SugarFree||

    The authors of the Mark, Luke and John were probably not Jewish, hence the separation.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Ah... The More You Know.

  • Fissiksman||

    When the gospel writers (Jews) wrote "the Jews" did this or that, they are speaking of the Jewish leadership (the Sanhedrin) and what they did, as opposed to what the common man on the street Jew did or thought. Jesus spent a lot of time arguing with the Sanhedrin over their additions to the law.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Except that one guy. He was cool.
  • Fissiksman||

    The Bible was written by and for Jews. We're so far removed from that mindset, that we miss many things written in the Bible, because we interpret from a 21st century American mindset rather than from a 1st century Jewish one. When the gospel writers (Jews) wrote "the Jews" did this or that, they are speaking of the Jewish leadership (the Sanhedrin) and what they did, as opposed to what the common man on the street Jew did or thought. Jesus spent a lot of time arguing with the Sanhedrin over their additions to the law.

  • The Last American Hero||

    -1 People of the Book?

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    But think of how many more votes they could get if they improve their relationship with the Black community!

  • Rothbard'sbitch||

    The democrats have really taken this whole we need to be more like European leftists thing to heart. Jewish Democrats better watch out or they may find themselves in the same category as evil white men.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Asians, Jews, traitorous White Wimminz, and light-skinned Hispanics are going to get lumped in with the evil White Male (a category that has continuously grown to include continentals, swarthy Mediterranean types, Slavs, and even the Irish). All the fretting and/or gloating about how white people are going to become a minority in the US eventually is pointless, since the definition of "white people" is ever-changing and now roughly means whoever is on the commie shitlist.

  • JeremyR||

    While it's a bad bill, it pretty much applies current campus witch hunt powers and extends them to anti-semitism, which is going to give the left a taste of its own medicine (since they are anti-Israel to the point of anti-Semitism)

  • DJF||

    OK, now that I am aware of anti-Semitism, am I suppose to be for it or against it?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Well Palestinians are semites too, so if you pick a side in that shitshow you can be pro and anti at the same time.

  • waffles||

    I like a good hedge.

  • Pan Zagloba "The Stickler"||

    In doing so, it misses the point that things like holding Israel to "a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation" and even something is repugnant as Holocaust denial are protected speech under the First Amendment

    So is thinking that black people should be enslaved, Asian people shipped back home, gays should be sent to straightening camps and women should be denied vote and employment. What do you think DoE does should Anti-Black Week become an event in multiple places, like, say, Israeli Apartheid Week

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think that we can all agree that all of those things should happen to Jim Harbaugh.

  • kbolino||

    Where is my shocked face that Reason forgot to renew their SSL certificates?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Are you the SSL police?

  • kbolino||

    On my list of Reason's IT incompetencies, failure to SSL properly is probably 4th or 5th.

  • Lee Genes||

    *mumbles something about swiping on mobile and 5 bazillion scripts*

  • kbolino||

    Possible list:

    1. Squirrels
    2. Shitty mobile experience
    3. Shitty threading
    4. Shitty search
    5. SSL fuckups
    6. Only time it ever gets improved is with browser plugins written by other people
    7. Inability to handle greater-than sign
    8. Interpreting URL escape sequences in body text
    9. Dismal selection of allowed formatting

    And that's just off the top of my head.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    Should I stop payment on my credit card?

  • SIV||

    Last one to do so is a CUCK !

  • kbolino||

    Assuming you're serious, Playa, no, that's handled through a third party.

  • ||

    Thank you, keebs, for the list. It may be of some use to me.

  • Pan Zagloba "The Stickler"||

    You know how cities cut libraries and fire service when they have a budget dispute, not pensions or benefits?

    SSL and server maintenance are equivalent when donation bar isn't moving as fast as they want.

  • Juice||

    LOL, my browser just told me that Reason was totally unsafe and I shouldn't continue.

  • SIV||

    Heh !

  • kbolino||

    Just shoot that gun anywhere, you're bound to hit a legit target once in a while. What could go wrong?

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    ?

    BDS is free association.

    what's the reckless gun shooting?

  • kbolino||

    I suppose the analogy was a bit inapt; my point was that going after an (allegedly) abusive company for their ties to Israel rather than for, you know, the abusive behavior, is kind of beside the point. Maybe throwing a dozen darts across an empty room and then congratulating yourself because one of them hit the dartboard is a better analogy.

  • Je suis Woodchipper||

    "BDS to continue supporting boycotts against G4S over mass incarceration globally"

    that's mission creep.

  • ||

    Anti-semitism: Discrimination against ethnic semites, an ethnic group from the levant which includes modern-day Araps and biblical Hebrews.

    Jew: A member of a religion (ie, something which one chooses to be). Many, but not all of these people have some semitic heritage.

    Israel: A nation-state located in the levant which claims to speak for all Jews in all things at all times, but many Jews would claim otherwise. Despite open in-migration a majority of the world's jews continue to live in places other than Israel.

    Etc.

  • ||

    "Arabs" not "Araps." Obviously.

  • ||

    I see what you're doing there, Tonio. You just shrewdly left out the 'e' didn't you? Arapes! Islamaphobia!

  • Hugh Akston||

    Yeah this was my thought as well. Criticizing Israel is not the same thing as antisemitism, though obviously they are both protected by the first amendment.

  • kbolino||

    I've made this point myself but that ship sailed a while ago. Moreover, few if any Arabs consider themselves kin with Semitic Jews and the number of people who are themselves Semetic and anti-Israel but not anti-Jewish is vanishingly small.

  • Detroit Linguist||

    Cute definitions, but unrelated to reality. Your definition of Anti-Semitism is not based in any facts.
    Words do not get their meaning from the parts that make them up. A 'villain' isn't someone who lives in a 'villa', nor is a 'highway' an elevated road.
    Anti-semitism is bigotry against, or ill-will towards a person because they are Jewish.
    Your definition of Jew is of course, also overly simplistic also (i.e. not in accord with the normal twenty-first century understanding of the word). Adolph Hitler (not to mention several more recent folks) BEHAVED as if being Jewish was NOT something 'which one chooses to be'.
    Israel does not claim to speak for all Jews, nor do all Jews agree with everything (or anything) Israel does. But much of the BDS rhetoric and 'narrative' borrows from traditional anti-semitic tropes (and even visual images).
    The proposed law is bullshit--we don't make laws against thoughts in the US (or shouldn't anyway) but that doesn't make the BDS movement any less odious.

  • I can't even||

    Citation needed for the Israeli charter.

  • esteve7||

    I never understood what is so sacred about religion, no pun intended. My prog friend goes on and on about Muslims and Islamophobia, but a religions is just an ideology, it's a choice. You choose what religion you are and you can change it, so what's so special that it should be immune from criticism?

  • ||

    Well, I'm sure he gives Christians the same love, so what's the problem? Muslims are the new special snowflakes, more snowflakey than the most snowflakiest snowflakes before them. And if you don't believe it, they'll blow shit up!

  • esteve7||

    I'm sure my prog friend would say well Muslim's are oppressed here in America and Christians are the majority so there!

    Principals, not principles

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    Zealotry is prejudice plus power?

  • JayU||

    My Persian doctor is absolutely crushed by his S500. Seriously, it's a heavy fucking car.

  • dschwar||

    Now that's an image no one needs.

  • Ceci n'est pas un woodchipper||

    Back before Penn Jillette lost his mind as a result of veganism he had a good Penn Point segment on how a lot of Muslims--and not just terrorists--behave essentially like spoiled little kids. In a backhanded way he calls Islam out by saying that Christians, Mormons, and Jews deserve a lot of credit for being "adult" enough to not respond to criticism of or jokes about their beliefs with violence, unlike Muslims.

    Obviously every Muslim is as much an individual as every other person, and most certainly don't commit or condone violence, but there does seem to be a strain of thin-skinned hypersensitivity among Arab and African Muslims that goes way beyond what you see from other religions.

  • I can't even||

    " thin-skinned hypersensitivity" has been a feature of Islam since Muhommed was getting butthurt every time somebody didn't kiss his ass. See Muhammad's Dead Poets Society.

    www.answering-islam.org/Author....._poets.htm

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    Criticizing someone's religion hurts their feelings extra hard, that's why.

    More serious, speculative answer: You humans have a long history of basing your personal identities on religion, so people are more likely to take criticism of their religion as a personal attack.

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    Elaborative thought: Religion also generally includes some sort of ethical code, so it's maybe easier for people to make the not-always-justified mental jump from "you are pointing out problems with my religion" to "you are calling me a bad person".

  • AlmightyJB||

    Well maybe God should stop being such a dick and come off those winning lotto tickets.

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    But can God, in his omnipotence, create a lottery system so fair that even He can't always win it?

  • AlmightyJB||

    God apologist huh?

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    Not really, but I've heard enough apologetics to pass an ideological Turing test.

  • lap83||

    I know you're kidding, but whenever I hear the God's omnipotence thought experiment I think it must have been invented by a progressive. What other sort of person fantasizes about having so much power that they can even achieve the logically impossible. (can an omnipotent progressive create an economic system so horrible that they can't think of a way to make it worse?)

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    What other sort of person [...]

    Speaking anecdotally: Certain kinds of theists, who fantasize about having a divine buddy powerful enough that he could totally beat up your god, you heathen.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Why does God...need a lottery ticket?

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    The ways of God are mysterious and ineffable.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    Update - McCrory concedes: http://townhall.com/tipsheet/c.....n-n2255361

    Honestly, though I mostly liked him as a governor and thought the HB2 controversy was overwrought and stupid, this shouldn't change the financial reforms of my home state too much since the GOP still held its majority in all of the legislative branches. If anything, it should just make more gridlock for four years, which will be a net benefit for liberty.

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    He wins easily without HB2.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    Agreed, he was a good governor besides HB2. Unfortunately from what I can tell, many of the left-leaning voters in my state are very frequently single-issue and low-info voters. I could see as much when Obama came to Chapel Hill and I went out of morbid curiosity. Many of the people there that voted for Cooper and (in lesser numbers) Ross said that McCrory was doing well as governor, but that HB2 ruined "everything". I wanted to jump in and ridicule them, but I smartly stayed away for my own safety.

  • TheZenomeProject||

    Never mind, the GOP actually has super-majorities in the legislature. In other words, the governor's race didn't mean anything!

  • ||

    Well, we needed another bill! God help us, we don't have enough bills! We need moar! So what if it's totally meaningless bullshit, it's about time the do nothing Congress did something!

  • kbolino||

    Has Hamas stopped firing rockets into Israel yet?

  • kbolino||

    So, no, they haven't.

  • ||

    They're just *holds thumb and forefinger barely together* tiny little rockets, keebs. Little more than party favours and bang snaps.

  • kbolino||

    I'm sure once Israel has been properly boycotted/divested/sanctioned, Hamas will lay down their arms and accept peaceful coexistence.

    Right?

  • waffles||

    So just to make sure I have this straight. Anglo-Dutch apartheid state = bad. Jewish apartheid state = good.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    I'm not trying to be an asshole with this comment; but honestly is there anything with more cultural awareness than the terrible persecution of the Jews and how that is a bad thing? Or has Anti-Semitism really come back in vogue now that WW2 is closing in on the centennial date?

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    There's cultural awareness, but at the same time, the majority of "hate crimes" (SLD: should not exist) are anti-Jewish, which you'd never know from the media.

  • I can't even||

    Antisemitism seems to be making a comeback - partly because the left has aligned itself with Islam and Palestine. I think they are nuts for doing so - but Keith Ellison as DNC chair would certainly signal that's where they are heading.

    http://www.americanthinker.com.....e_bus.html

  • Juvenile Bluster||

    BDS is a collection of groups who mostly use anti-Israel arguments (fine) to disguise anti-Jewish arguments (less fine, but still constitutional) that has every right in the world to spew their nonsense.

  • Detroit Linguist||

    This^

  • ||

    Joooooos!

  • rts||

    I guess the timing of reason.com's security certificate expiring and the Web-a-thon is entirely coincidental, eh?

  • Col. Chestbridge||

    My money's on Pan Zagloba's guess above. It's Benedict Arnold statues all the way down!

  • ||

    Also, does Congress pass anything these days that is not constitutionally dubious? I'm assuming that if not, they would have had to stop passing new bullshit about 50 years ago. There's no way this crap should be a full time job, send these assholes home to get a real job and just call a session a few times a year or during a national emergency or to actually pass a budget.

  • JayU||

    It's been fun watching your comments slowly devolve as we get further and further down the thread to this one.

  • lap83||

    "The Jews..."

    C- trolling, no one is going to read past those two words because no intelligent sentence begins that way. You have to ease the reader into your craziness.

  • AlmightyJB||

  • ||

    Obama's Democrats are clueless clowns on foreign policy. News at 11.

  • ||

    What exactly did Lurch do? I read an article somewhere earlier today saying that the avg age of the old school Democrat elite is 76. Those will all be gone soon. Then guess what we get? Bernie babes! No more pretending, full on commie train here we go!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I have risked my internet safety to come say reason's website is a slow motion spiralling clusterfuck. Go ahead, switch to disqus or facebook-based commenting while you're at it; you might as well. I'll get a lot more done.

  • ||

    If they switch to FB, the day before that will be my last comment here. The day after that, FB puts Reason on the fake news blacklist, and the last comment will have been commented. Squirrels win.

  • waffles||

    Won't squirrels go extinct without comments to fritter about? That's a terrible endgame.

  • ||

    Agreed. I don't FB. Full. Stop. Vkontakte is bad enough, and Zuckernerd can do without my data being mined, TYVM.

    I already claimed my handles on Disqus, JIC.

  • Ted S.||

    I don't do Facebook. And if they go to Disqus I'll probably comment very rarely too.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Constitutionally Dubious 'Anti-Semitism Awareness Act' Unanimously Passed by Senate

    And you just know the Jews were behind this!

  • The Lone Loner||

    It's yet more thought-police nonsense.

    On more concerning note, Il Douche's national security advisor appointee Michael Flynn is said to have posted and then deleted a tweet that (unless it was the result of a serious auto-correct error) seems to bring into question some of Flynn's "theories."

  • catmanhanna||

    I'm really happy you wrote about this. I had no idea. It worries me because many times I have criticized Israel and their influence in American politics, etc. The attacks on Free Speech are coming faster and faster.

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