Today Maryland's junior Senator Chris Van Hollen (D) held a discussion with Professor Shibley Telhami at University of Maryland's Hoff Theater in College Park, MD.
After the discussion with Professor Telhami, questions were taken from the audience. One audience-member asked Senator Van Hollen if he supported Senator Ben Cardin's Israel Anti-Boycott Act which could jail boycotters of Israel for up to 20 years. Van Hollen stated very clearly that he did not:
"With respect to the legislation that you referenced, I think the ACLU has raised some really important points about this and my interpretation of that legislation is that it does things that the sponsors say were not unintended in terms of the bill. Because I don't think any American for example should be threatened with fines or imprisonment for expressing their views in the form of participating in economic actions with respect to Israel. So I certainly do not support that bill, certainly not in its current form."
Watch Senator Van Hollen's statement here.
This statement is a big deal. It's very unusual for Maryland's Democratic Senators to openly oppose each others' legislation like this. Senator Van Hollen indicated that he agreed with ACLU's assessment of what the bill does. And he said that he "certainly does not support that bill". Van Hollen is known to be a cautious and thoughtful insider, not a hyperbolic bomb-thrower. His statement could give other legislators on the fence cover to also oppose the bill.