Citing a number of reports of allegedly anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses across the U.S., this bill would require the Department of Education to consider anti-Semitism when reviewing alleged violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in all federal programs. For the purposes of this bill, anti-Semitism would include efforts to delegitimize or demonize Israel.
Because of the expansive definition of anti-Semitism, critics of the bill saw it as an effort to undermine or marginalize the growing BDS movement.
Concerns over free speech obstructed previous versions of this bill from progressing through Congress in late 2016 (see S. 10 and H.R. 6421 of 12/1/16 at congressionalmonitor.org). Scott and his cosponsors therefore added a provision in this new version stipulating that “nothing in this Act shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”