(September 10, 2019 / JNS) Two pro-Israel groups, the American Jewish Committee and StandWithUs, have each filed an amicus brief calling on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to uphold Texas’s anti-BDS law.
The AJC brief, filed on Tuesday, argues that the anti-BDS law, Texas Government Code Chapter 2270, is constitutional and a lower court judge’s injunction in April, suspending the law’s implementation, should be lifted.
The SWU brief, submitted last Friday with Agudath Israel of America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, supports the decision of the Texas legislature prohibiting government contractors from boycotting Israel.
The law was narrowed in May as Gov. Greg Abbott signed an updated version of the 2017 law, exempting individuals and smaller companies, specifically those with less than 10 full-time employees or valued under $100,000.
“The state has a legitimate interest in safeguarding its commerce with Israel and its access to Israeli-connected goods or services, and its enforcement of that interest does not contravene the First Amendment,” said AJC general counsel Marc Stern.
“Chapter 2270 requires verification of a fact” that state contractors are not participating in a boycott of Israel, states the AJC brief. “It does not compel state contractors to endorse or engage in speech opposing the BDS movement or BDS activities, does not prevent individuals affiliated with state contractors from participating in boycotts in their personal capacities, and does not prevent contractors from expressing their personal views regarding boycotts or associating with others who share their views.”
It also mentions that “plaintiffs have identified no contractor and no set of circumstances in which application of the verification requirement would be unconstitutional.”
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging the anti-BDS legislation.
“The right to boycott is deeply ingrained in American tradition, from our nation’s founding to today,” said Tommy Buser-Clancy, staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, who argued the motion to block the law in the lower court, following its April ruling. “The state cannot dictate the views of its own citizens on the Israel/Palestine conflict—or any issue—by preventing them from exercising their First Amendment right to boycott.”
JNS works around the clock to provide high-quality, pro-Israel content. We’ve taken numerous steps to improve the quality, quantity, and distribution of our content for even greater impact. We intend to keep on growing, and to do that we need your help.
Please help us take pro-Israel journalism to the next level with a tax-deductible sponsorship, either on a one-time or recurring monthly basis. Jewish News Syndicate is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.