The US weekly newspaper Arkansas Times announced on Friday, February 12, that it has won a lawsuit in which it challenged a state law that makes it compulsory – for businesses based in the state- to pledge that they will not boycott Israel.
“Big news today from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals,” the newspaper announced, adding that “The Arkansas Times, and the First Amendment, have prevailed in a lawsuit challenging the state law that prevents state business with those who won’t pledge not to boycott Israel.”
“A federal district court had dismissed our challenge, but the 8th Circuit, in a 2-1 decision, sent the case back to the district court. The (Arkansas) Times, represented by the ACLU (the American Civil Liberties Union) asked for an injunction against the law.
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) April 6, 2016
“We had never editorialized about Israel or the boycott but objected to being forced to sign a pledge about editorial content as a condition of doing business. The case was over an advertising contract with the Pulaski Tech branch of the University of Arkansas. We lost an existing contract because we refused to sign a pledge.
“According to the Arkansas Times, similar laws requiring a pledge not to boycott Israel, have been blocked in three other states. The fact that the newspaper has won the case is a watershed moment for those who oppose what many legal experts have argued is an unlawful measure, and, as the American paper described it, “a cookie-cutter law favored by conservative supporters of Israel.”
The court’s decision, in favor of the Arkansas Times, however, reaffirmed the fact that the law is a violation of established US laws.
— Jamil Dakwar (@jdakwar) February 12, 2021
“The Act prohibits the contractor from engaging in boycott activity outside the scope of the contractual relationship ‘on its own time and dime,'” the court stated. “Such a restriction violates the First Amendment.”
Arkansas’ law is “similar to restrictions enacted in other states that have been challenged,” the Associated Press reported on Saturday.
“The measures are aimed at a movement protesting Israel’s policies toward Palestinians,” AP reported, referring to the global Palestine Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS).
“Similar measures in Arizona, Kansas, and Texas that were blocked were later allowed to be enforced after lawmakers narrowed the requirement so it only applied to larger contracts. Arkansas’ law applies to contracts worth $1,000 or more.”
(The Palestine Chronicle)