Judge Pitman of the Western District of Texas Thursday (April 25) issued a 56-page opinion striking down H.B. 89, the Texas Anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) Act, as facially unconstitutional.
The court held that the Texas Anti-BDS Act "threatens to suppress unpopular ideas" and "manipulate the public debate" on Israel and Palestine "through coercion rather than persuasion." The court concluded: "This the First Amendment does not allow."
single "No Boycott of Israel" clause in every single state contact in
Texas has today been stricken as unconstitutional. The Attorney
Arizona & Kansas Laws
In September 2018, a federal court blocked Arizona from enforcing its anti-boycott law, finding that the law likely violates the First Amendment. A federal court also issued a preliminary injunction against Kansas' enforcement of its anti-boycott law.
In January 2018, issuing the first decision of its kind, a federal judge blocked enforcement of a Kansas law targeting boycotts of Israel, ruling in an ACLU lawsuit that the First Amendment protects the right to engage in political boycotts.
The Kansas law requires that any person or company that contracts with the state sign a statement that they are "not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel." The ACLU brought the lawsuit in October 2017 on behalf of Esther Koontz, a schoolteacher who refused to sign the certification.
Kansas ruling to address the wave of laws nationwide aiming to punish people who boycott Israel. It correctly recognized that forcing an individual to choose between exercising their rights and contracting with the state is unconstitutional.
Koontz is a veteran math teacher and trainer who was told she would need to
Anti-Boycott legislation around the country
In response to the growing movement for Palestinian freedom, over 100 measures targeting boycotts and other advocacy for Palestinian rights have been introduced in state and local legislatures and the U.S. Congress since 2014. As of April 10, 2019, 27 states have adopted anti-boycott laws, including five executive orders issued by governors.
Palestine Legal and other civil rights groups are fighting back. Flagging potential constitutional violations, federal courts have already stopped two states from enforcing these laws. Lawmakers in Kansas and Arizona have opted to change the laws to avoid the litigation.
Anti-boycott laws have been enacted in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky* Louisiana*, Maryland*, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York*, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin*.
*The governors of Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York and Wisconsin signed anti-boycott executive orders.
Although BDS hasn't inflicted significant economic damage on Israel, the movement's increasing visibility especially on some American college campuses has alarmed Israelis and their supporters in the United States. Many supporters of Israel have sought to portray the BDS movement as anti-Semitic.