(WASHINGTON, D.C., 7/23/2019) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today welcomed a federal court’s decision allowing CAIR’s First Amendment lawsuit against the Texas anti-BDS law to move forward.
[NOTE: BDS refers to Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in support of Palestinian human rights.]
CAIR’s lawsuit — brought on behalf of Bahia Amawi, the Texas speech language pathologist for elementary school children who lost her job because she refused to sign a “No Boycott of Israel” clause — resulted in a federal court ordering Texas to remove such clauses from all state contracts issued by any public entity.
BREAKING: CAIR Wins Landmark First Amendment Victory Striking Down Texas Anti-BDS Law
After CAIR’s successful challenge to Texas’ Anti-BDS Act, the state legislature tried to amend the law in a way that would prevent judicial scrutiny of the anti-speech measure.
In a 14-page decision issued today, Judge Pitman of the Western District of Texas rejected this effort, explaining that the amendment “does not ameliorate the constitutional defects the Court identified” in the law. The order means Amawi’s case seeking to strike down the entire Anti-BDS Act will continue.
“We welcome the court’s decision, which recognizes that the Texas Anti-BDS Act does not just harm Bahia Amawi, it harms all Texans who speak out on issues of widespread public concern,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.
BACKGROUNDER ON TEXAS/MARYLAND ANTI-BDS LAWS:
On April 25, 2019, Judge Pitman enjoined the Texas Anti-BDS Act, H.B. 89, as facially unconstitutional under the First Amendment. 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 Texas Legislature responded to Judge Pitman’s April order by amending the Anti-BDS Act to exclude sole proprietors like Bahia Amawi from having to sign “No Boycott of Israel” clauses. H.B. 793, the amended version of the law, was signed by Governor Abbott and took effect on May 7, 2019.
CAIR currently has a pending First Amendment challenge to the Anti-BDS Executive Order issued by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan. A hearing in Ali v. Hogan has been set for August 1, 2019 at 4:00 pm before Judge Catherine Blake at the federal courthouse in Baltimore, Md.
SEE: CAIR Says Maryland Governor’s Anti-BDS Order Violates First, 14th Amendments
Yesterday, CAIR urged all Americans who support the First Amendment to contact their members of Congress and ask them to oppose an anti-BDS resolution coming up for a vote in the House of Representatives and instead support a resolution reaffirming the right to boycott.
CAIR ACTION ALERT: Tell Congress to Support Free Speech, Oppose Anti-BDS Resolution Denouncing Right to Boycott
Anti-BDS measures currently exist in 27 states. Anyone who has been affected by Anti-BDS measures is encouraged to contact CAIR’s civil rights department at https://www.cair.com/report, firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 202-742-6420.
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 misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri, 202-642-4934 , email@example.com; CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, firstname.lastname@example.org; CAIR Trial Attorney Carolyn Homer, 202-516-4724, email@example.com; Maira Sheikh, CAIR-Austin Executive Director, 512-785-7105, firstname.lastname@example.org