Thursday, January 10, 2019

Muslim Group Sues Maryland over "No Boycott of Israel" Executive Order

Arab News: Maryland’s ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel tramples on the First Amendment rights of a software engineer who advocates for Palestinians, a Muslim civil rights group claims.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ federal lawsuit seeks to block the state from enforcing an executive order that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed in October 2017.

The order requires contractors to certify in writing that they don’t boycott Israel. The group’s suit claims the order has an unconstitutional chilling effect on First Amendment-protected political advocacy supporting Palestine.

CAIR says 25 other states have enacted measures similar to Maryland’s, through legislation or executive orders. CAIR attorney Gadeir Abbas said other federal lawsuits have challenged measures in Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas.
In December, the Arkansas Times weekly newspaper sued to block a similar measure. That state law, which took effect in August 2017, requires contractors to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don’t sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge’s office argued that boycotting Israel is not activity protected by the First Amendment.

“It is neither speech, nor is it conduct that is inherently expressive, nor associational activity that is afforded constitutional protection,
” wrote attorneys representing Rutledge’s office.
These suits filed by CAIR (which I refer to as standing for "Can't Antagonize Islamic Radicals") will be interesting to monitor.

I don't have a lot of knowledge of how government-private business contracting works. I do know a government institution can require certain conditions be met for certain employers, like minority and women-owned companies. And, believe it or not, I understand the essence of CAIR's lawsuit. But to claim some type of disadvantage, or discrimination by using the First Amendment to support their basis? I'm not an attorney or a judge, but this issue seems to fall under contractual law. If you dislike the terms of a contract, don't sign it. I don't see the slightest foundation for CAIR's argument based under Freedom of Speech. Governments discriminate every day against every one. CAIR needs to learn this.

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