The Supreme Court on Tuesday left in place a lower court ruling upholding a state law restricting boycotts against Israel.
The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law, arguing it ran afoul of the First Amendment.
The ACLU brought the case on behalf of the Arkansas Times, which had contested a 2017 Arkansas law that says government contractors must pledge not to boycott Israel or else they must reduce their fees by 20%.
Alan Leveritt, publisher of the Arkansas Times, said the paper was disappointed by the court’s decision not to hear the case, arguing allowing a state to punish “dissenting opinions is abhorrent.”
“Our newspaper is not boycotting anyone, we cover local politics and issues, not the Middle East — but we do not allow the state to dictate our political positions on any issue in return for advertising dollars. The Supreme Court can ignore our First Amendment rights, but we will continue to vigorously exercise them,” he said.
The paper lost a contract with the state-run University of Arkansas System for not promising to engage in any boycotts against Israel for the duration of the contract.
The publisher of the paper refused to sign the document, saying it was a violation of protected speech.
The law defines the boycotts as refusing to deal or engage in business activities with Israel or people associated with the country.
The full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled against the paper, upholding the law.
Progressive Democratic lawmakers such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota have championed the BDS movement — “boycott, divestments, sanctions” — against Israel in favor of the Palestinian territory.
• Alex Swoyer can be reached at email@example.com.
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