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Civil Rights Groups Announce Free Speech Lawsuit Against Georgia’s Unconstitutional ‘Israel Boycott’ Law

Civil Rights Groups Announce Free Speech Lawsuit Against Georgia’s Unconstitutional ‘Israel Boycott’ Law

(ATLANTA, GA – 2/10/2020) — The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia), CAIR Legal Defense Fund and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund today announced the filing of a federal free speech lawsuit against the University System of Georgia, which cancelled a journalist’s speaking engagement on a college campus when she refused to sign a state-mandated oath pledging not to boycott the Israeli government.

During a press conference, activist, journalist and filmmaker Abby Martin spoke about her experience, while attorneys from CAIR and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund presented details of the federal lawsuit.

WATCH THE ENTIRE NEWS CONFERENCE:

LIVE: CAIR and Partnership for Justice Fund announce federal free speech lawsuit to overturn Georgia's unconstitutional Israel boycott law. #freespeech

Posted by CAIR on Monday, February 10, 2020

The lawsuit states in part:

“Martin  was  deprived  of,  and  will  continue  to  be  deprived  of,  her ability to speak on state college campuses in Georgia or at any other institution that disqualifies speakers based on their protected political activity and that mandates that she sign Georgia’s required loyalty  oath  to Israel  and  pass Georgia’s ideological litmus test.”

It calls for an injunction against the continuing enforcement of the Georgia law and for it to be declared “unconstitutional and unenforceable statewide.”

READ THE LAWSUIT:

https://www.cair.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Abby-Martin-v.-University-System-of-GA.pdf

BACKGROUND

In 2016, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law SB 327, which requires any person or company that enters into a contract with the State of Georgia worth $1,000 or more to sign a loyalty oath pledging not engage in political boycotts of the Israeli government based on its treatment of Palestinians. 


Numerous advocacy groups and state legislators, including then-House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, opposed the law as a violation of free speech.

Similar measures have been enacted in 25 other states as part of an effort to block the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Modeled after the global South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS movement’s stated goal is to pressure the Israeli government to end its occupation of Palestinian territory. 

CAIR, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations have filed free speech lawsuits against anti-BDS laws in Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, and Texas, where CAIR won a landmark legal victory last year.

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

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

The federal court in Texas held 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.”

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, based in Washington, D.C., is a public interest legal organization that has litigated on behalf of political organizations and activists across the country to protect and defend First Amendment rights. For more information go to www.JusticeOnline.org.

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

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