Can States Bar the BDS Movement Against Israel?
About two dozen states, including Arizona, have passed laws that limit government contracts with entities that support the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment & Sanction (BDS) movement.
Mikkel Jordahl, a former contractor that provided legal services for inmates in a county jail in Arizona is challenging Arizona's law on First Amendment grounds. Arizona's law states, "
A PUBLIC ENTITY MAY NOT ENTER INTO A CONTRACT WITH A COMPANY TO ACQUIRE OR DISPOSE OF SERVICES, SUPPLIES, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY OR CONSTRUCTION UNLESS THE CONTRACT INCLUDES A WRITTEN CERTIFICATION THAT THE COMPANY IS NOT CURRENTLY ENGAGED IN, AND AGREES FOR THE DURATION OF THE CONTRACT TO NOT ENGAGE IN, A BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL." Arizona’s law applies to any boycott of Israel that “discriminates on the basis of nationality, national origin or religion.”
Jordahl asserts that the BDS Movement activities are entitled to First Amendment Free-Speech Protections. The State argues that the States have the right not to endorse the BDS Movement under its sovereign authority to regulate its economic activity, especially with a key trading partner like Israel. Additionally, the State argues that the anti-discrimination aims of the law supersede First Amendment concerns.
Hear a clip from NPR below: