In a decision hailed as a “landmark” victory for the First Amendment, a federal judge on Thursday struck down a Texas law requiring government contractors to sign a pledge vowing not to participate in the pro-Palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.
“The right to boycott is alive and well in the United States and any attempt to suppress it puts you squarely on the wrong side of the Constitution.”
—Vera Eidelman, ACLU
“This is a complete victory of the First Amendment against Texas’s attempts to suppress speech in support of Palestine,” said Gadeir Abbas, senior litigation attorney with Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), one of the organizations that sued Texas over the anti-BDS law.
CAIR filed its suit on behalf of Bahia Amawi, a Texas speech pathologist who lost her job at an elementary school after refusing to sign a pro-Israel pledge required by the state’s law.
“It’s a huge win not just for me, but for everybody here in Texas,” Amawi said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I was in tears.”
In his 56-page opinion (pdf), Judge Robert Pitman of the Western District of Texas ruled the state’s law violated the First Amendment by threatening to “suppress unpopular ideas” and “manipulate the public debate through coercion.”
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