NY court: public accommodations law restricts rights of group seeking to boycott Israel

Both ironic and disturbing: rejecting a First Amendment defense, a New York court says city and state public accommodation law may forbid the left-wing National Lawyers Guild from turning down (in line with its position favoring an Israel boycott) an attempt from a group based in West Bank Israeli settlements to buy an ad in its awards banquet program [Eugene Volokh]


  • Hmmm. This one is interesting. The Court seems entirely wrong about the innocuousness of the message–the issue is association with the State of Israel which the NLG does not want. And Volokh’s right about the MTD being a preferred vehicle. But if the NLG can bar Israeli advertisers, why can’t a club bar members of an ethnic group? And, for that matter, to buy NLG’s position would be to accept that organizations cannot be made to give non-discrimination notices on their literature. Hmmmm.

    Isn’t the real issue this: Can the state condition the ability to accept money generally for advertisements on giving up one’s right to discriminate on the basis of national origin when it comes to who places the ads?

    And if the answer is no, where are the limitations?

  • This deliberately provocative move by Bibliotechnical Athenaeum is just politics by other means. If they want to work on a controversy at home, here’s one ripped from today’s headlines:

    “Israel’s Airport Authority has rejected a billboard campaign that urged female passengers not to give up their flight seats to ultra-Orthodox men who refuse to sit next to women.”

    • So what? Do you think that enters into the legal analysis?

  • “…But the Guild e-mailed the Athenaeum to say that it would reject the ad because of the Guild’s ‘resolution barring [Defendants] from accepting funds from Israeli organizations.’ ”

    So splitting hairs, they could accept and run the ad if they simply did not accept any funds.

    • Wouldn’t it be in violation of lawyerly ethics to not take money?