Free Minds & Free Markets

Are Boycotts Protected by the First Amendment?: New at Reason

Only if you like the cause they serve, according to supporters of laws that target the anti-Israel BDS movement

Ryan Rodrick Beiler / ShutterstockRyan Rodrick Beiler / ShutterstockDo you keep track of the policies, positions, and practices of the businesses you deal with, lest you inadvertently lend support to a cause you abhor or undermine one you embrace? Even if you don't, Jacob Sullum says, you should recognize that consumers who invest time and energy in that sort of discrimination see it as an important reflection of their moral values, which makes it an expressive activity that should be protected by the First Amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court agrees—up to a point. But as the debate over laws targeting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement illustrates, it's not clear where that point is. The answer people give may depend more on political sympathy than constitutional principle, Sullum says.


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online