Press Releases

CAIR Says ‘Outlier’ Arkansas BDS Ruling Endangers Free Speech, Welcomes Dissenting Opinion

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/22/22) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and organization, today said a court ruling on an Arkansas law that requires Americans to sign an oath pledging not to boycott the Israeli government as a condition for working with the state is an “outlier” that endangers free speech.

CAIR welcomed a dissenting opinion to today’s ruling.

A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that a district court judge rightly dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Times challenging the Arkansas law, which added a pledge to not boycott Israel as a part of vendor contracts with the state of $1,000 or more.

SEE: Appeals panel upholds dismissal of Arkansas Times challenge to state’s anti-boycott law

https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2022/jun/22/appeals-panel-upholds-dismissal-of-arkansas-times-challenge-to-states-anti-boycott-law/

CAIR filed, along with numerous other civil rights groups, an amicus brief in the Arkansas case.

“By declaring Arkansas’ Anti-BDS Law to be constitutional, the court has tacitly endorsed a Palestine-exception to the First Amendment,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri. “We will continue to support the Arkansas Times and the ACLU in their efforts to challenge this unconstitutional law.”

“We believe that the 8th Circuit has severely erred in its decision,” said CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas.

In a statement, CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said:

“By ruling against The Arkansas Times, the Eight Circuit has broken with nearly every other court that has reviewed and struck down these unconstitutional, un-American anti-boycott laws. We hope The Arkansas Times fights this ruling, which endangers the free speech rights of every American.”

Mitchell added that CAIR recently filed a brief before the Fifth Circuit in CAIR’s First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of a Texas engineering firm that refused to sign an anti-BDS loyalty oath to Israel as part of the company’s contract with the City of Houston.

SEE: CAIR Files Brief in Lawsuit Against Houston, Texas AG on Anti-BDS Contract Pledge

He said CAIR, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations have filed free speech lawsuits against anti-BDS laws in Georgia, Virginia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, and Texas, where CAIR won a landmark legal victory in 2019. Courts have blocked anti-boycott laws in Kansas, Arizona and Texas.

SEE: Texas Judge Blocks Law Banning Contractors from Engaging in Boycotts of Israel

SEE: Arizona Lawmakers Running Scared After Anti-Boycott Law Ruled Unconstitutional

In Texas, the federal court held that that the state’s anti-boycott law “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.”

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, 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.          

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CONTACT: CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, e-Mitchell@cair.com; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Coordinator Ismail Allison, 202-770-6280, iallison@cair.com

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