September 21, 2016
email@example.com 845-679-5301 (H); 914-466-0100 (C)
Board Votes to Support Free Speech & the Right to Boycott
Yesterday evening, the Woodstock Town Board voted unanimously (4-0) to adopt a first-of- its-kind resolution in New York State that questions the Constitutionality of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order 157 (EO 157).
Widely criticized by human rights organizations, civil rights attorneys, and community groups, EO 157 mandates New York State to create a blacklist of institutions abiding by boycott or divestment campaigns related to Israeli human rights abuses, and further requires State agencies to divest themselves from such entities.
The newly passed Town Board resolution requires Governor Cuomo to submit the “legal basis or judicial opinion upon which he finds his action to be constitutional” by December 5, 2016. Further stating that “in the absence of a timely, cogent, and acceptable legal and judicial opinion in support of Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 157," the Town Board will "stand in opposition to Executive Order 157 and request that it be rescinded” in addition to encouraging any entity impacted by it to contest in a court of law.
"Boycotts against injustices are deeply rooted in U.S. history and are a form of collective protest that enjoy full protection under the First Amendment. Penalizing advocates of any such boycott – whether of Israel, North Carolina, grapes, or lettuce – is a flat-out violation of the Constitution,” said Alan Levine, a prominent First Amendment attorney who worked closely on drafting the resolution. ”By passing this resolution, Woodstock Town Board has set an admirable example to other communities, and a clear message to the Governor that we not stay silent when we are being denied our rights.”
“The Woodstock Town Board has taken a commendable stance on free speech and boycott rights with this resolution,” said Alan Sussman, a Woodstock resident and First Amendment rights attorney. “As Americans we have an obligation, in part stemming from our fierce tradition of freedom, and in greater part by our love of democracy and fairness, to object to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Order.”