Monday, 28 Nov 2022

ACLU asks supreme court to overturn Arkansas anti-boycott law against Israel

ACLU asks supreme court to overturn Arkansas anti-boycott law against Israel


ACLU asks supreme court to overturn Arkansas anti-boycott law against Israel

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the US supreme court to overturn an Arkansas law requiring companies to pledge not to boycott Israel in order to do business with the state.

The civil rights group's petition said that the law is in conflict with a supreme court ruling 40 years ago that popular boycotts have a long tradition in American history and are protected speech under the first amendment.

The ACLU's chief litigator in the case, Brian Hauss, said that if the law is allowed to stand it would not only intrude on the right to protest in support of the Palestinians but also legitimise parallel legislation in some states against certain kinds of boycotts over the climate crisis or in support of gun control.

"This tactic of state governments forcing contractors to disavow participation in particular boycotts is expanding beyond the Israel-Palestine issue now to address boycotts of firearms manufacturers or boycotts of the fossil fuel industry," said Hauss.

"If the supreme court doesn't weigh in, or if it says that states can do this, every state is going to have a raft of anti boycott-laws that are basically designed to protect whatever causes or interests are favored by the legislators in that state. Texas has already passed laws requiring contractors to disavow those kinds of boycotts and other states are implementing similar laws."

The ACLU is acting on behalf of the Arkansas Times newspaper and its editor, Alan Leveritt, after a federal appeals court upheld a 2017 Arkansas law requiring government contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel or face a loss of business. The state justified the move as "boycotting the boycotters".

Leveritt said he had no intention of boycotting Israel, with which the paper does no business, but he refused to sign the commitment because it "requires the Arkansas Times to take a political position in return for advertising".

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