US Supreme Court Defends Free Speech on Palestine

The dismissal marks the third consecutive time a federal court has dismissed the Jewish National Fund’s case against the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Speaker at Washington, D.C., march on Washington for Gaza on Jan. 13. (Diane Krauthamer, Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

By Brett Wilkins
Common Dreams

Free-speech defenders welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to take up a lawsuit that outlandishly claimed a civil society group provided “material support” for terrorism by advocating for Palestinian human rights.

The Supreme Court’s punting of Jewish National Fund v. U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR)— which comes over three months into Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip — marks the third consecutive time a federal court has dismissed the case, which USCPR said casts “collective activism and expression of solidarity as unlawful.”

In the case’s first dismissal in March 2021, a federal judge said that the plaintiffs’ argument was “to say the least, not persuasive.”  

USCPR Executive Director Ahmad Abuznaid hailed Monday’s move by the nation’s highest court, reiterating the group stands for “justice for all and an end to funding genocide.”

“There’s no lawsuit in the world that can stop us from pushing our demands for human rights,” he said. “We will remain focused on opposing Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people and pursuing justice and freedom for the Palestinian people.”

According to USCPR: 

“At issue were USCPR’s fiscal sponsorship of the Boycott National Committee and expressions of support for the rights and demands of Palestinians participating in the Great Return March [2108-19], when Palestinians protested to demand respect for their right to return to the villages from which Israeli settlers expelled them in 1948.”

Near Gaza’s border with Israel in 2018. (Fars News Agency via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0) 

More than 230 Palestinians including at least 46 children were killed when Israeli forces responded to the largely peaceful demonstrations against Israel’s ethnic cleansing and illegal occupation with live and “less-lethal” ammunition. 

Tens of thousands of Palestinians were wounded over the course of the protests, which continued for the better part of two years. 

The Jewish National Fund (JNF) — which was established in 1901 to purchase land for Jewish settler colonists in Palestine, then part of the Ottoman Empire — claimed USCPR’s advocacy during the demonstrations violated a provision of the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, a highly contentious law signed by then-President Bill Clinton which prohibits “material support” for activities the United States considers terrorism. 

“The JNF’s prolonged and egregious pursuit of a fishing expedition to silence and intimidate urgent advocacy for Palestinian rights has been definitively put to rest by the Supreme Court,” said Diala Shamas, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, which supported the defendants.

“The JNF’s accusations were baseless, as recognized by the district court, the court of appeals, and now confirmed by the Supreme Court,” Shamas added. “Now, as the government of Israel is carrying out an unfolding genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, it is more important than ever that activists be free to speak out without fear. This is an important victory, but USCPR shouldn’t have been subjected to these smears in the first place.”

According to Palestinian and United Nations officials, nearly 25,300 Palestinians have been killed and around 63,000 others wounded during Israel’s 108-day, U.S.-backed assault on Gaza in retaliation for the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7. Another 7,000 Gazans are missing and presumed dead and buried beneath rubble. 

More than 1.9 million Palestinians, or over 85 percent of Gaza’s population, have been forcibly displaced, while medical officials say babies and children in Gaza are starving to death due to Israel’s self-described “complete siege” of the embattled enclave. 

Israel’s conduct in the war is the subject of a South African-led genocide case before the International Court of Justice.

Brett Wilkins is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

Views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

17 comments for “US Supreme Court Defends Free Speech on Palestine

  1. robert e williamson jr
    January 25, 2024 at 00:38


    Note the court, THE SCOTUS, has entertained the plaintiffs relevant to my two previous comments today in the Jewish National Fund v The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights case, three times.

  2. robert e williamson jr
    January 24, 2024 at 14:59

    Forgive my impetulance here in persisting, but this needs to be included for clarity.


    Press Release: Feb 21,2023

    The SCOTUS denial left in place a previous ruling from the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that “boycottss” are not expressive enough to merit First Amendment protection.

    I seem to see a significant conflict between the courts entertaining the Jewish National Fund v U. S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR).

    So which is it we should expect from the highest court in the land, the subjective or objective? I’m very curious about this.

  3. robert e williamson jr
    January 24, 2024 at 14:35

    Not to change the subject here, the comments are very encouraging, as is this article but I have a question.

    Does not this refusal by the SCOTUS fly directly into conflict with the SCOTUS previous ruling against interfering with states anti-BDS stands? The same court ruled money is speech.

    In light of the fanatical Israeli governments genocidal response to Oct 7 2023 attack by Hamas I would think more who comment here would question the court on this.

    I would really like to hear from Mr. Wilkins on this. Most especially because of the 2nd and third paragraphs of Brett’s article.

    I’m damned sure no lawyer but this seems to be an opportunity to provoke the SCOTUS, and force a stand on the issues. I get my waffles from the Waffle House.

    Thanks CN

  4. CaseyG
    January 24, 2024 at 12:27

    Netanyahu and the creators of Zionist followers do not respect ancient history. Israel lost the land long ago, and the world has changed . Sadly the Zionists have not changed at all. After WW 2, it seems that the .Zionists became the Nazis of present day Palestine. LONG LIVE PALESTINE, as for the nazis–you are already fighting in vain—so you might as well die in it too.
    And remember too, that old adage: How can you tell when Netanyahu is lying? —–His lips are moving.

  5. TDillon
    January 23, 2024 at 20:04

    This is great news! I had been wondering if the Supreme Court would cave to the Zionists. I had been hoping the 1st Amendment was simple and clear enough to withstand the Zionists’ word games, lies, and backstage manipulations. Apparently it is at the Supreme Court.

    Maybe this will help some members of Congress grow a spine.

  6. Charles E. Carroll
    January 23, 2024 at 13:07

    Poor Julian is no comparison to Palestine. The issue should not be confused.
    Free Palestine!

    • two-in-one
      January 23, 2024 at 20:16

      Not quite true. Naturally Julian is one person and the Palestinians are millions, so the level of human suffering is not comparable. But the two ‘issues’ are really inseparable. To support Julian is to support an end to colonial occupation and war–including in Palestine–and vice versa.

  7. Jeff Harrison
    January 23, 2024 at 12:30

    antisemitism is evil. Indeed anti-anything that relies solely on what group you are a member of and not who you are and what you’ve done is evil. The Jews are overplaying their hand, badly, especially considering that they are the Palestinian’s brothers. Jews were not the only small annoying Semitic tribe (i.e. tribes that spoke a Semitic language) in the Levant 3,000 years ago.

  8. firstpersoninfinite
    January 23, 2024 at 11:52

    And yet, even today The Guardian is running an article equating support for Gaza with antisemitism. They even bring out Jeremy Corbyn’s time as once head of Labor as a “scary” moment for those running the oldest Holocaust museum in the world. Stories such as these are in The Guardian daily, and such doses of propaganda being paraded as “news” is the only reason for such stories. But I support their right to propaganda, as long as they support my right to point it out.


  9. Nylene13
    January 23, 2024 at 11:25

    Good for the Supreme Court. Now let them get Julian Assange out of Prison – for practicing Freedom of Speech. And the fact that he is not even an American shows how little our current political leaders care abut Truth and Justice.

  10. Mary Saunders
    January 23, 2024 at 11:09

    A few other actions beyond that of South Africa are now in play in international venues.. I expect a flurry of more suits in the US, especially against strategic lawsuits against public participation, sometimes called slaps, all caps. A notable case already occurred in Washinton-state regarding the Olympia coop’s support of Rachel, whose last name was Corrie, if I am recalling correctly with my old, organic hard-drive memory organs. A hurrah to Fitzi. I hope Ms. Cohen is watching from her rise-in-glory. Resting-in-peace is hard for me to envision regarding Fritzi C.

  11. Richard L Romano
    January 23, 2024 at 10:45

    The first amendment is what stands in the way of complete fascism. It like all amendments has not been followed in in times like ours. We will see if it has any force to stop this fascism.

  12. Vera Gottlieb
    January 23, 2024 at 10:20

    High time to make the Zionists realize that they do NOT rule this planet. Enough of their lies, bribes, extortion, smearing, bringing down politicians/educators who have different views. All of us, regardless of where we live, MUST have the right to peacefully express our opinions…regardless. Judaism has absolutely NOTHING to do with Zionism.

    • Susan Siens
      January 23, 2024 at 14:57

      I’m not sure that Zionism has nothing to do with Judaism considering all the mass exterminations detailed in the Hebrew Scriptures. But there seem to be two distinct trends in Jewish culture: those who follow the prophets (truth-tellers) and stand for justice, and those who oppose all truth and humanity.

  13. norm
    January 23, 2024 at 04:33

    Thank god for the 1st Amendment. As far removed we as a nation are from the Founders’ intent, that amendment still holds sway with the US judiciary.

    • Colin Mansell
      January 23, 2024 at 11:01

      Apart from Julian Assange, although that is untested in the judiciary.

    • Mary Saunders
      January 23, 2024 at 11:12

      With some of the judiciary. Exceptions must be noted, especially in particular venunes

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