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Anti-defamation League Urges Vetoing of Bill Outlawing Group Libel

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith urged Governor Rockefeller today to veto a bill deadline with group libel that has been passed by both houses of the legislature. The bill, introduced by state Senator Irwin Brownstein, would make it a crime to libel a racial or religious group.

In a letter responding to the governor’s request for its opinion of the bill, the Anti-Defamation Largue pointed out that for almost half a century it has been and continues to be engaged in a broad educational program aimed at the eradication of bias and prejudice, and that a “carefully drawn statute punishing group libel may serve the state well.”

However, the letter pointed out that “this bill reveals a number of serious shortcomings.” Among these, the League contended, were “vague language that may render the bill open to the charge that it violates due process of law.” According to the Anti-Defamation League, “the bill fails to set form clear standards of guilt” and may therefore fail to achieve the goal sought.

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