To: The Illinois State House, The Illinois State Senate, and Governor J.B. Pritzker

Illinois: Don't Stifle Pro-Boycott Free Speech

Victory! The creator of this petition declared the campaign a success. You can still sign the petition to show support.

Illinois legislators and Governor Patrick Quinn should oppose SB 3017, which threatens free speech and academic freedom in Illinois.

Why is this important?

Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein has introduced a bill - SB 3017 - that threatens freedom of speech and academic freedom in Illinois. The Illinois ACLU opposes the bill. (1) Similar bills in New York and Maryland have been opposed by the American Association of University Professors, (2) the New York ACLU (3), and the ACLU of Maryland. (4)

These bills would, by threat of cutting funding, prohibit public universities from reimbursing faculty participation in professional organizations that adopt resolutions that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel for its policies toward the Palestinians. Some legislators disagree with BDS and want to punish academic associations that have declared support for it.

Regardless of how one feels about BDS, it’s the First Amendment right of academics to support or oppose such resolutions, and it’s their First Amendment right to participate in professional associations that support such resolutions. (5)

Urge Illinois legislators and Governor Patrick Quinn to oppose SB 3017 by signing our petition.

[UPDATE, 3/5: There was no hearing of this provision in the Senate's higher education committee on March 4. According to the Illinois ACLU, the next time the bill could come up in the Senate's higher education committee is March 19.]

[UPDATE, 3/10: There is now a petition specifically for Illinois academics:
NOTE: *please* put your Illinois academic affiliation in the comments, in keeping with the spirit of having an Illinois academics' petition.]

[Update 3/21/14: We are delighted to report that State Senate Bill 3017 was not called for debate or a vote during the Judiciary Committee hearing on Wed., March 19th. It now appears, although there is no certainty on this, that the bill will not be moved forward during this legislative session. If the March 28th deadline for moving a bill is not met, it means this unconstitutional assault on academic freedom and free speech will have effectively been defeated.

We have come this far because people and organizations throughout Illinois took action. Our hundreds of phone calls and email messages, the petitions, and the direct discussions with members of the State Legislature all had an impact and made a difference! We had a sense we were on strong footing when we saw that 95 organizations and individuals had submitted to the Judiciary Committee "witness slips" through Wednesday indicating that they opposed this legislation, even though they could not appear at the committee hearing in person. Only 3 people submitted witness slips in support of the bill.

The issue is not quite settled though. A State Senate resolution introduced by the same Senator Silverstein, SJR 59, is still pending. It has much the same purpose of undermining academic boycotts of Israel, minus the punitive measure of defunding public universities. The Resolution has still not been assigned to a Senate Committee.]

1. Letter to members of the Senate Higher Education Committee, Illinois ACLU, March 4, 2014,
2. “AAUP Opposes Anti-Boycott Legislation,”
3. "Legislative Memo: In Relation to Withholding State Funds from Public Universities that Support Academic Associations that are Engaging in Boycotts," NYCLU, February 10, 2014,
4. “Who We Are,” Keep Free Speech in the Free State,
5. “Maryland bills would stifle academic freedom,” Melani McAlister, Baltimore Sun, February 12, 2014,,0,7489561.story