House passes antisemitism bill over complaints from First Amendment advocates

House passes antisemitism bill over complaints from First Amendment advocates

The Washington Post reports:

House Republicans are seeking to unite their unruly majority around an evergreen conservative cause, devising a strict response to the wave of pro-Palestinian protests that have roiled college campuses across the country in recent weeks.

GOP leaders this week announced plans for new oversight investigations of elite universities where — in the words of House Republican Whip Tom Emmer (Minn.) — “pro-terrorist anti-Semites [are] taking over.” And on Wednesday, they passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which its advocates said would empower the federal government to crack down on anti-Israel protests on campuses by codifying a definition of antisemitism that encompasses not just threats against Jews, but also certain criticisms of Israel itself.

“We must give the Department of Education the tools to … hold college administrators accountable for refusing to address antisemitism on their campuses,” said Rep. Michael Lawler (R-N.Y.), the bill’s lead sponsor.

The bill was approved by a vote of 320-91, with a majority of Democrats — 133 — joining Republicans.

Lawler’s bill — with 61 co-sponsors, including 15 Democrats — would create “a clear definition of antisemitism” in U.S. law that the Education Department could then use to cut off funding to academic institutions found to tolerate such behaviors. The definition, however, has drawn fierce opposition from First Amendment advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union and liberal Democrats, who say it veers sharply into the realm of restricting political views. [Continue reading…]

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