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The four plaintiffs are American studies professors Simon Bronner, Michael Rockland, Michael Barton, and Charles Kupfer. Two are recipients of the ASA award for outstanding abilities and achievement. One is a founding member of a respected American Studies department and another is a member of ASA’s governing council and the editor of the Encyclopedia of American Studies.

According to the Complaint, the plaintiffs have repeatedly attempted to address the matter within the Association. The professors say they filed this suit as a last resort in order to return the ASA to the academically-focused organization it has been for 60 years.

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“This appears to be a clear example of a small group misappropriating assets raised for an agreed upon purpose and illegally using the organization to advance a completely separate and personal agenda,” stated University of California Berkeley Law School Professor Steven Davidoff Solomon, a renowned corporate law expert who served as an expert adviser to the litigation group representing the plaintiffs.

Northwestern Law School Professor Eugene Kontorovich, a recognized expert in constitutional and international law who also served as an expert adviser to the litigation group added, “To be clear, this is not about silencing or stopping criticism of Israel, or in any way discouraging it. It is about non-profit corporations abiding by their own rules.”

In addition to violating D.C. law, the lawsuit reveals how the defendants attempted to prevent informed discourse. In fact, no research performed within scholarly standards to support the boycott was presented, and the ASA refused to circulate or post to the ASA’s website several letters opposing the boycott resolution, including one signed by approximately 72 ASA members and another opposing the resolution from eight former ASA presidents.

The plaintiffs and many other ASA members raised objections to ASA’s leadership but were ignored. At least two ASA chapters refused to honor the boycott and many ASA members resigned and stopped donating following the adoption of the boycott.

Not only did outraged members of the ASA protest the boycott decision, but 134 members of Congress, as well as the esteemed American Association of University Professors (AAUP) condemned the ASA for its boycott.

“Academic associations should think twice before abusing their missions and betraying the lawful purposes for which they were established in favor of the personal political agendas of their noisiest and most politicized activist members,” stated Kenneth L. Marcus, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and one of the attorneys on the case.

“This case stands for the simple proposition that nonprofit corporations must pursue the lawful purposes for which they are established, for which they receive nonprofit status, and for which they raise charitable contributions” added Jerome M. Marcus of Marcus & Auerbach LLC, lead counsel to the plaintiffs.

*This reporter is the spouse of the lead counsel for plaintiffs.

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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the JewishPress.com. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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