The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas on Tuesday in opposition to a law in the state that makes it mandatory for contractors to provide information certifying they are not taking part in a boycott of Israel.
The lawsuit alleges that four state citizens were recently forced to make a choice between earning a living for their families and their First Amendment rights due to the law.
According to CNN, the current lawsuit is the second filed in less than a week against the ‘anti-BDS’ law. The BDS movement uses boycotts, divestments, and sanctions in an attempt to pressure Israel into ending their Palestinian occupation.
House Bill 89 became law in 2017 and makes it unlawful for any government agency to do business with a contractor that takes part in a boycott against Israel. Upon signing HB 89, a press release from the office of Governor Greg Abbot explained that Texas was a strong supporter of Israel and would consider any stance taken against the nation to be a stance taken against Texas.
There are at least 25 other states in the country that have enacted similar laws.
A provision in the bill makes it necessary for contractors to agree that they are not currently involved in a boycott against the Israeli state and will not become involved in a boycott as long as doing business with the state.
The ACLU says in its lawsuit that the conflict between Israel and Palestine is not what is in question in the case. The issue at hand in their opinion is the right of Texas to disqualify contractors based on their personal political viewpoints.
The University of Houston released a statement saying that it is presently complying with the law but will review the lawsuit filed by the ACLU.
Plaintiff Obinna Dennar says he was required to return payment he earned for acting as a judge at a debate tournament because he is actively participating in a BDS campaign.
A reporter who works on radio, George Hale, says he was forced to go against his own conscious and sign the certification.
The plaintiffs involved in the lawsuit all claim Ken Paxton, the state attorney general, along with the school districts and educational institutions for whom they performed work, have acted in violation of both first and fourteenth amendment protections.
The lawsuit by the ACLU was filed a day after a speech pathologist working at a school in the state was fired for not signing the certification.