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US union sues over Arizona law targeting BDS campaign

December 8, 2017 at 1:58 pm

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a federal lawsuit yesterday on behalf of an attorney “challenging an Arizona law prohibiting state contractors from supporting boycotts against Israel, saying it violates his right to free expression”, reported the Associated Press.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of attorney Mikkel Jordahl, who provides legal advice to Coconino County inmates, and asks “the court to declare the law, which mandates contractors sign a statement promising not to boycott Israel, unconstitutional”.

Kathy Brody, ACLU of Arizona legal director, said in a statement: “The government has no business telling people what causes they can or can’t support. The bottom line is that political boycotts are a legitimate form of non-violent protest, and they are protected by the First Amendment.”

According to AP, Jordahl “has long demonstrated his personal pro-Palestine beliefs by not buying products and services from businesses that support Israel.”

After the Arizona law took effect in March 2016, Jordahl received documents to renew his contract with the county seven months later, including a form certifying he was not engaged in any Israel boycotts. “Jordahl said he signed it under protest. He received the same form last month”.

Read: Texas refuses aid to American supporters of BDS

In addition, “Jordahl said he wants to offer legal aid to organisations engaged in boycotts against Israel but this law would stop him. Refusing to sign the statement would mean a loss of income.”

In October, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to overturn a similar law in Kansas, and “a federal judge is considering whether to block enforcement of the five-month-old law while the lawsuit proceeds”.

“The suit was brought on behalf of a Wichita educator who was told she couldn’t be paid by the state to train teachers because she refused to sign a statement that she wasn’t boycotting Israel. Kansas officials said the law allows the teacher to seek a waiver,” notes AP.

Timeline: International attempts to boycott BDS