Local lawmaker aims to reduce anti-Semitic attacks on college campuses
Eddie KadhimABC News 15
February 23, 2017
South Carolina lawmakers are working to fight the growing number of anti-Semitic crimes on college campuses.
Rep. Alan Clemmons from Myrtle Beach is the main sponsor of a bill that would give colleges and universities the ability to look at the motives behind illegal activity, and if it's considered an anti-Semitic hate crime, the punishment would be harsher.
Clemmons says it's not about what's said or free speech.
“When that speech gives rise to illegal activity, then this will be a tool for institutions of higher learning in South Carolina,” said Clemmons. "For administrators to look back at the facts behind that illegal activity or violation of university policy to determine the intent whether it was bigoted anti-Semitic intent or not.”
FBI statistics show there were more Jewish hate crime victims than of all other religions combined in 2015.
Kenneth Marcus is the president of a group that fights hate crimes on college campuses called the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.
He says we should provide a clear definition of what is hateful by using the "3 D test".
“The Jewish State is being demonized, not just criticized in the way the Jewish people for centuries were. Ask whether the Jewish faith is being delegitimized. Whether its legitimacy is being questioned in a way that other nations aren't being questioned. Ask whether double standards are being applied. Not just whether Israel is being criticized, but if another set of standards are being used for Israel than any other country."
The bill actually states it cannot be "construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment."
The president of the South Carolina Conference of the American Association of University Professors Brandon Inabinet said while he had not read this bill to comment on it directly, he's concerned about academic freedom.
“Our whole interest is we promote speech on multiple sides of an issue, rather than silencing or forcing people not to think about something which usually leads to extremism,” said Inabinet.
The bill cleared the House Judiciary Subcommittee Wednesday morning.
It will advance to the full Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives Tuesday of next week, and then will likely be up for second reading in the full House the following week.
If you are concerned about anti-Semitism on your campus, or if you seek advice about best practices, contact us.
Alan Gura, Esq. Alan Gura is a founder and partner in Gura & Possessky, PLLC. Previously, Mr. Gura served as Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Oversight; as Deputy Attorney General for the State of California; and as an attorney with Sidley & Austin.