Thursday, February 21, 2019

Anti-BDS laws don’t infringe on free speech

Texas’ anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) law opposing commercial boycotts against Israel is being challenged on the basis that it violates the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech.

We at the Zachor Legal Institute disagree with this position and also reject the notion that the BDS campaign is a civil rights movement.

Zachor Legal Institute supports the First Amendment and encourages states and the federal government to implement and enforce anti-discrimination laws that focus on combatting BDS.

These laws are narrowly tailored anti-discrimination laws similar to many other anti-discrimination laws that protect, among other categories of people, women, racial minorities and LGBTQ individuals. All of these laws balance the right to free speech with the government’s obligation to protect classes of people from discrimination.

In a recent case, an Arkansas federal judge ruled that Arkansas’ anti-BDS law is constitutional and not a violation of free speech. This judge, for the first time in a challenge to a state anti-BDS law, analyzed relevant case law and subsequently came to the correct conclusion.

In response to the BDS movement’s discrimination against Israel, Texas and other states enacted laws that generally prohibit the state from using taxpayers’ money to contract with or invest in businesses that engage in commercial discrimination against Israel. Twenty-six states currently have anti-BDS laws, and additional states are considering adopting similar laws.

Anti-BDS laws do not and are not intended to restrict an individual’s right to speak against Israel. Rather, the laws target the discriminatory commercial nature of the BDS boycott campaign.


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