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BREAKING: CAIR Wins Landmark First Amendment Victory Striking Down Texas Anti-BDS Law

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/25/19) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today welcomed this afternoon’s landmark victory in CAIR’s First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of Bahia Amawi, the Texas speech language pathologist who lost her job because she refused to sign a “No Boycott of Israel” clause. 

The CAIR Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit in December 2018 challenging Texas Anti-BDS Act, H.B. 89.  CAIR actively challenges similar measures around the country, including in Arizona and Maryland.

SEECAIR Files Motion to Enjoin Texas Anti-BDS Act as Unconstitutional

This afternoon Judge Pitman of the Western District of Texas issued a 56-page opinion striking down H.B. 89, the Texas Anti-BDS Act, as facially unconstitutional.

READ: The Judge’s Opinion

The Court held that the Texas Anti-BDS Act “threatens to suppress unpopular ideas” and “manipulate the public debate” on Israel and Palestine “through coercion rather than persuasion.”  The Court concluded: “This the First Amendment does not allow.”

Every single “No Boycott of Israel” clause in every single state contract in Texas has today been stricken as unconstitutional.  The Attorney General of Texas is no longer permitted to include or enforce “No Boycott of Israel” clauses in any state contract.

Bahia Amawi can also now return to work as a speech language pathologist.  Amawi received the news of her victory while driving, and pulled over to the side of the road to shed tears of joy. “God is great,” she exclaimed.

“We thank our legal team for this major victory and we thank the community for supporting this work,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

“We’re gearing up for the fights in the other 26 states where anti-BDS laws have been passed and we are certain that we are on the right side of the constitution and history.”

“Arabic-speaking schoolchildren in Texas have been deprived of critical services from Bahia Amawi for almost this entire schoolyear because of this unconstitutional law,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.  “Today we welcome a victory for the First Amendment.”

“This is a complete victory of the First Amendment against Texas’s attempts to suppress speech in support of Palestine,” said CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas.  “More importantly, it’s a complete victory for all Texans, to engage in political speech without government censorship.”

“The First Amendment blocks any effort by state governments or the federal government from forcing their citizens to take sides in the widespread international debate about the relationship between Israel and Palestine,” said CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer.  “This is a lesson all public servants should remember when considering Anti-BDS measures around the country.”

“Bahia Amawi has been an inspiration to the Muslim community and all advocates for free speech in Texas,” said CAIR-Austin Executive Director Maira Sheikh.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 202-642-4934 , lmasri@cair.com; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, gabbas@cair.com; CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer, 202-516-4724, chomer@cair.com; Maira Sheikh, CAIR-Austin Executive Director, 512-785-7105, msheikh@cair.com  

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