AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge has blocked enforcement of a Texas law that requires contractors to certify that they don’t support a boycott of Israel.
In a 56-page opinion filed Thursday, US District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin said boycotts are protected free speech, declaring the law fails to serve a compelling state interest.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas filed the federal suit in December against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and others. It argued the law forces people to choose between their First Amendment rights and their livelihoods.
Texas is among 25 states that has enacted similar bans on participation in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The lawsuit was a consolidation of two court actions. One was brought last December by the Council on American-Islamic Relations on behalf of Bahia Amawi, a Palestinian Muslim speech pathologist and US citizen who lost her job with a suburban Austin school district because she refused to sign a “No Boycott of Israel” clause mandated by the state.
Another was brought by the ACLU of Texas on behalf of four persons against two local school districts and two state university boards of regents. The lawsuit claims the four plaintiffs bringing the suit have either lost “contracting opportunities” because they declined to sign the certification, or they signed “at the expense” of their First Amendment rights.
Read More: Times of Israel