Astha Sharma Pokharel discusses recent developments that aim to suppress advocacy and the legal tools that we have to challenge these developments.
The right to protest is crucial for transformative and lasting social change – which is why opponents of progressive movements have always used a range of tactics to attempt to silence protest. States have passed laws aimed at suppressing environmental justice, Black Lives Matter, Palestinian human rights, and animal rights movements, often with the help of conservative and corporate lobbying groups such as ALEC. Opponents of those movements have labeled organizers and activists “terrorists.” They have employed strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) to bog advocates down in litigation. In this talk, Astha discusses recent developments that aim to suppress advocacy and the legal tools that we have to challenge these developments.
Astha Sharma Pokharel is a Bertha Justice Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she works to defend the right to dissent and on issues around corporate accountability, Palestine solidarity, and abusive immigration practices. In White Hat v. Landry, she represents individuals and organizations who advocate against the fossil fuel industry and residents of Cancer Alley in their challenge to Louisiana’s anti-protest critical infrastructure law. In Bronner v. Duggan, she represents Dr. Steven Salaita in a lawsuit against the American Studies Association and individual directors for endorsing a call led by Palestinian civil society to boycott Israeli academic institutions. And in Awad v. Fordham, she represents students challenging Fordham’s decision to ban a Students for Justice in Palestine on its campus.