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Action Alert: Call on Georgia Legislators to Oppose Unconstitutional ‘Israel Boycott’ Law

Join the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia), CAIR Legal Defense Fund, and the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) in opposing an attempt by two state legislators to protect Georgia's anti-free speech Israel boycott (BDS) law from legal challenges at the behest of Atlanta's Israeli Consulate.

The groups are also asking Georgia state residents to contact their state representatives and senators requesting that they vote against any attempt to salvage Georgia's illegal anti-boycott law.
 
Take Action: Call on Georgia Legislators to Oppose Unconstitutional ‘Israel Boycott’ Law

In 2016, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law SB 327, which requires any person or company that enters into a contract with the State of Georgia worth $1,000 or more to sign a loyalty oath pledging not engage in political boycotts of the Israeli government based on its treatment of Palestinians. Numerous advocacy groups and state legislators, including then-House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, opposed the law as a violation of free speech.

Earlier this year, CAIR and PCJF filed a federal free speech lawsuit against the University System of Georgia, which canceled a journalist's speaking engagement because she refused to sign a state-mandated oath pledging not to boycott the Israeli government. 
 
SEE: Civil Rights Groups Announce Free Speech Lawsuit Against Georgia’s Unconstitutional ‘Israel Boycott’ Law
https://www.cair.com/press_releases/civil-rights-groups-announce-free-speech-lawsuit-against-georgias-unconstitutional-israel-boycott-law/
 
Last week, Rep. Deborah Silcox and Rep. Michael Wilensky introduced HB 1058, which limits the law's application to contracts over $100,000. Other states have introduced similar alterations after anti-boycott laws were defeated in court. By raising the contract limit, the bill would make it less likely the law would be applied, and less likely to be challenged.

In a statement, CAIR-Georgia Legal & Policy Director Murtaza Khwaja said:
 
"The fact that Representative Scott and Representative Wilensky are attempting to save Georgia's anti-boycott law by tweaking it confirms the strength of our federal free speech lawsuit. However, tweaking this law does not make it any less illegal or unconstitutional. 
 
"Whether the contract at issue is worth one dollar or one million dollars, Georgia's anti-boycott law is a blatantly unconstitutional attempt to punish Georgians who dare to speak out against a foreign government's human rights abuses."

SEE: Abby Martin Banned From Speaking at US University For Refusing to Sign Pro-Israel Pledge

BACKGROUND
 
Similar measures have been enacted in 25 other states as part of an effort to block the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Modeled after the global South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS movement's stated goal is to pressure the Israeli government to end its occupation of Palestinian territory. 
 
CAIR, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations have filed free speech lawsuits against anti-BDS laws in Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, and Texas, where CAIR won a landmark legal victory last year.
 
SEE: Texas Judge Blocks Law Banning Contractors from Engaging in Boycotts of Israel
Arizona Lawmakers Running Scared After Anti-Boycott Law Ruled Unconstitutional
 
The federal court in Texas held that that the state's anti-boycott law “threatens to suppress unpopular ideas” and “manipulate the public debate” on Israel and Palestine “through coercion rather than persuasion.” The Court concluded: “This the First Amendment does not allow.”
 
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, based in Washington, D.C., is a public interest legal organization that has litigated on behalf of political organizations and activists across the country to protect and defend First Amendment rights. For more information go to www.JusticeOnline.org.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
 
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
 
END

CONTACT: 

  • CAIR-Georgia Legal & Policy Director Murtaza Khwaja, 404-432-8847, mkhwaja@cair.com
  • CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas, 720-251-0425, gabbas@cair.com
  • Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, PCJF Executive Director, 202-270-3533, mvh@justiceonline.org
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