“I Won’t Boycott Israel” Law Shot Down

Since the last legislative session, school districts and other governmental entities have been required to include a provision in contracts with vendors whereby the vendor promises that the company is not, and will not, boycott Israel. On April 25th, a federal judge in Texas enjoined enforcement of the statute.

This state law is part of a larger national movement to show support for Israel. The idea is to push back against the BDS movement. The BDS movement seeks to pressure Israel to end its occupation of disputed territories and its discrimination against Arab-Palestinian citizens through boycotts, divestments and sanctions (BDS). The Texas House of Representatives passed this bill unanimously and only five members of the Senate opposed it. This made Texas the 26th state to adopt such a law.

The Attorney General cited that broad popular support in defense of the statute, but the court turned that on its head, citing a landmark school law case in the process:

Texas touts these numbers as the statute’s strength. They are, rather, its weakness. “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” West Virginia SBOE v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 642 (1943).

That Barnette case is the original “refuse to recite the Pledge” case. Constitutional rights are there to protect the rights of the minority: the person who expresses the unpopular opinion, the student who does not want to recite the Pledge, the speech therapist who does not support Israel’s policies. So the fact that the statute was passed overwhelmingly does not advance the cause.

You would think that our Attorney General would know that.

This case is Amawi v. Pflugerville ISD, et. al. The preliminary injunction was issued on April 25, 2019 by Robert Pitman, federal judge for the Western District of Texas.


Tomorrow: 15 ARD Meetings in 3.5 years.