Big Legal Win for Kansas Schoolteacher barred from Boycotting Israel

Media with Conscience News | – –

The US state recently passed a law requiring all state contractors to pledge they do not support a boycott of Israel.


A US judge has temporarily blocked the implementation of a law that bars anyone from entering into a contract with the state of Kansas without first pledging they will not boycott Israel.

US District Court judge Daniel Crabtree granted the temporary injunction on Tuesday in response to a lawsuit filed by Kansas public school teacher Esther Koontz late last year.

Passed in June 2017, the Kansas legislation requires all state contractors to declare in writing that they do not support a boycott of Israel.

Koontz argues the law violates her rights under the First Amendment.

In his ruling, Crabtree wrote: “The Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented Koontz in court, welcomed the decision.

“The court has rightly recognised the serious First Amendment harms being inflicted by this misguided law, which imposes an unconstitutional ideological litmus test,” said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss in a statement.

Koontz, a public school math teacher, was asked to sign a document saying she was not boycotting Israel in July 2017 before she could work as a trainer in a state-run math and science programme, the court filing states.

However she had begun boycotting Israeli companies and Israeli companies operating in the occupied Palestinian territories last year in protest of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

After refusing to sign the form, she was not given the contract, the case states.

“This ruling should serve as a warning to government officials around the country that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing participation in political boycotts,” Hauss said.

Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, welcomed the court’s decision, saying on Twitter that “the 1st Amendment triumphed today”.

The Kansas legislation comes amid a growing crackdown in the US on the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement

Launched in 2005, BDS seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories and respect the rights of Palestinian refugees and Palestinian citizens of the state.

Last October, Wisconsin also passed a law barring state agencies from entering into contracts with entities that are “engaging in a boycott of Israel”. Also in October, the governor of Maryland signed an executive order blocking firms that boycott Israel from receiving state contracts that same month.

As of this month, 24 states have enacted anti-BDS laws, according to Palestine Legal, a US-based legal advocacy group. Eleven other states have anti-BDS legislation pending.

A US Senate bill, known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, has also been proposed and would bar US citizens from supporting “restrictive trade practices or boycotts fostered or imposed by any international governmental organisation against Israel”.

Via Media with Conscience

This work by MWC News is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Bonus video added by Informed Comment:

TheRealNews: “Kansas Teacher Scores Big Win for Israel Boycott, and Free Speech”

Posted in Israel Lobbies | 5 Responses | Print |

5 Responses

  1. Thankfully, there is a judge with some sanity. (Beware that Trumpian judges are rapidly populating the circuits. But that is another topic) Such a mind boggle that any government would require a law that demands allegiance to Israel. Such incredible governance! Why do the voters let congressmen “play around” with laws with a stench of corruption and/or ideological severity? Just how much can a pro-Israel law advance the welfare of people in places like Kansas? Unbelievable!

  2. Find out which state legislators supported the anti-BDS laws, find out who their contacts amongst pro-Israel donors – and Israeli settlers – and publicize their names internationally .

  3. This is such good news! It is great to hear my monthly donation to the ACLU is going toward such great work. The right to voice a political opinion is the most important right we have in a democracy. But right wing judges and justices will undoubtedly be chipping away at this most fundamental right in the near future. This is how a democracy is lost.

  4. It’s fascinating that states and feds are passing/considering anti-BDS laws which means there exists a real fear of a successful BDS campaign.

    I recently returned from a 10 day trip to Israel and met sincerely wonderful people from all sides of the current issues (Jewish, Muslim, Christian, etc.). Yet, the numerous (and illegal) settlements, walls, fences, refugee camps, checkpoints, and concertina wire made for a disturbing and unsettling view of the future of Israel and the Middle East.

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