Radio Debate about Anti-BDS Bill: Delegate Kramer vs. Delegate Tarlau. Our Side (Tarlau) Wins!


This morning on the Marc Steiner Radio Show, two Maryland State Delegates, Ben Kramer (D-Silver Spring) and Jimmy Tarlau (D-Mount Ranier) faced off against each other about the Anti-BDS bill. Ben Kramer is a sponsor of the bill. Jimmy Tarlau is an opponent of the bill.

You can listen to 22-minute-long debate here.

Delegate Tarlau did a fabulous job pointing out all the flaws in the bill -- most importantly that it is an assault on free speech.


Below you can read the entire transcript of the debate.

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Baltimore Sun Flags Anti-Boycott Bill as Violation of the First Amendment

The Baltimore Sun has written a great article explaining the contours of debate around the anti-Boycott Bill. Unfortunately for the bill supporters, it exposes the main problem with the bill. It's blatantly unconstitutional:

[Delegate Benjamin] Kramer denies the legislation would infringe on the rights of boycotters. He pointed to the strong economic relationship forged through Maryland's Declaration of Cooperation with Israel.

"There is nothing unconstitutional about saying we do not want to use taxpayer funds that would undermine state policy," he said.

[Donald F. Norris, director of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County] questioned whether that logic will hold up in court.

"Now that the Supreme Court has told us money is speech, it will have First Amendment implications, which would make it unconstitutional," he said.

There is no way to square this circle. SB739/HB949 is fatally flawed. It cannot be fixed. It must be defeated. If you want to help defeat the bill, send a message to your legislator opposing it.

Come Join us February 6 for our Annapolis Lobby Night

Help us stop the Anti-BDS legislation being introduced in the 2017 Maryland General Assembly. Come join us for “F2B Lobby Night” in Annapolis on Monday February 6th as we urge our Maryland State legislators not to pass any anti-BDS legislation. 

  • When: 4 - 9 pm on Monday February 6, 2017
  • Where: Lowe House Office Building. 6 Bladen St Annapolis, MD 21401, Room #150
  • What do I need to bring? Just bring yourself. We will provide all the instructions, materials, refreshments, etc!

To RSVP: Please email me at with your address (to find your district) and what your availability is.

Remember, our Lobby Night is 4 - 9pm. But if you can only come for part of that time, you are still welcome!


BORDC/DDF, MCCRC oppose announced anti-BDS legislation on 1st, 14th Amendment grounds, circulate open letter to MD General Assembly

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation (BORDC/DDF) and the Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition sent the letter below to all members of the Maryland General Assembly yesterday. It concerns reported plans by some of those members to legislate against the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” of Israel (BDS) movement in Maryland. From the letter:

We recognize that the co-sponsors of the forthcoming bill feel passionately about their opposition to BDS, and that the First Amendment protects those views no less than it protects the views of those who support BDS. The First Amendment, however, prohibits one side of a contentious debate on a matter of great public interest from using the legislative process to silence the other.

Maryland General Assembly will try again to Suppress the BDS movement

Washington Jewish Week has reported that several Maryland General Assembly legislators (Senator Bobby Zirkin along with Delegates Ben Kramer, Shelly Hettleman and Sandy Rosenberg) will be introducing legislation to financially penalize organizations that endorse the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, Sanction (BDS) movement. While the bill has not yet been introduced, we understand that it will create a blacklist of companies that Maryland won't do business with.

This is the third year that the Maryland General Assembly has attempted to use their power to punish political expression. While this new initiative is, of course, disturbing these legislations actually have helped our BDS community grow. For example:

  • Nobel Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, wrote an open letter about the anti-BDS legislation. His letter was in response to Maryland activists and he specifically called out the Maryland General Assembly for their rhetoric.
  • Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore and the Catholic Conference of Major Superior Men) became the first Catholic entities to join BDS. Both are headquartered in Maryland.
  • Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation and Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition sent the following letter to all the legislators regarding the civil liberties implications of these bills.
  • The Lutherans became the 9th denomination to join BDS last August. 

And lastly, it has made us more committed to defend non-violence in general and the BDS movement in particular. If you are a resident of Maryland who is also committed, please join us by following the instructions here!


Freedom2Boycott defends the 1st Amendment right to boycott, including the boycott of Israel known as BDS. Click to help! Find an Event


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