Texas Judge Blocks Israel Boycott Ban

A district judge in Texas has temporarily blocked further enforcement of an anti-BDS law, according to The Texas Tribune. Judge Robert L Pitman obstructed the law, which forbids the state from employing contractors who boycott Israel, The Washington Post reported. Pitman describes the legislation as a possible violation of the First Amendment, in a nearly 60 page opinion signed Thursday. The move means that the state of Texas may not make compliance with a pro-Israel policy a condition of employment until all related cases are otherwise resolved.
Pitman writes:
The statute threatens to ‘suppress unpopular ideas’ and manipulate the public debate through coercion rather than persuasion.”
Pitman’s conclusion also states:
The Court reiterates that this case is about whether Texas may prohibit boycotting the State of Israel as a condition of public employment… In coming to its conclusions, the Court is guided by first principles. ‘At the heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person should decide for him or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence.”
The legislation came under fire when Muslim speech therapist Bahia Amawi was told she could not continue to work for Texas school districts as long as she publicly supported a boycott of Israel. When asked to comment on Pitman’s ruling, she said “It’s a huge win not just for me, but for everybody here in Texas.”
The ACLU has also filed lawsuits against Texas school districts, arguing that Texas employers tried to deprive contractors of their Constitutional rights. Similar legal action could become increasingly troublesome for the state which has failed to have the lawsuits dismissed.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office plans to appeal the ruling. Marc Rylander, Communications Director for the Attorney General, criticized Pitman’s order as “essentially requiring government to do business with discriminatory companies.”
Pitman’s injunction will likely remain in effect until the state of Texas permanently resolves all disputes regarding the bill.