A federal judge in Texas struck down a state law Thursday that required government contractors to sign a pledge not to participate in the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 89 into law in May 2017, also known as the Anti-BDS law, and lawsuits have since been filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas.
“Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally,” Abbott said at the time of the law’s passing, making it one of more than a dozen states that have passed similar laws.
CAIR sued on behalf of Texas speech pathologist, Bahia Amawi, who said she was fired from her job for refusing to sign the anti-BDS contract. (RELATED: Speech Pathologist Was Fired From Texas School District For Refusing To Sign Pro-Israel Statement. Now She’s Suing)
Amawi is an American citizen of Palestinian descent, who sought an injunction intended to remove the anti-BDS clause from school contracts.
Judge Robert Pitman of the Western District of Texas ruled the state’s law violated the First Amendment by threatening to “suppress unpopular ideas” and “manipulate the public debate through coercion,” according to Common Dreams.
“This is a complete victory of the First Amendment against Texas’s attempts to suppress speech in support of Palestine,” Gadeir Abbas stated, attorney with CAIR, one of the organizations that sued Texas over the anti-BDS law.
“Whatever their views on the BDS movement, members of Congress and state legislators should heed this strong message from the courts,” Vera Eidelman, attorney with the ACLU said in a statement. “The right to boycott is alive and well in the United States and any attempt to suppress it puts you squarely on the wrong side of the Constitution.”
The ACLU successfully blocked similar anti-boycott state laws through the years, including ones in Kansas and Arizona, and made clear in its statement its suit is not a statement against or for Israel.