updated July 2, 2018
On Oct. 11, 2017, the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Kansas' anti-BDS law, HB 2409 (see below for more info on the bill). On Jan. 30, 2018, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction blocking Kansas from enforcing the law, holding that "“the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law." Click here for more information.
In response to the preliminary injunction, Kansas lawmakers amended the anti-boycott law during the 2018 legislative session to avoid a court ruling that would strike it down. But instead of scrapping the unconstitutional law altogether, lawmakers narrowed it to carve out Esther Koontz, the plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit. The newly amended law applies only to companies with public contracts worth $100k or more. Sole proprietors are no longer covered. In addition, the amended law only applies to boycotts of goods and services that are an "integral part" of trade between Kansas and Israel.
On June 29, 2018, the ACLU agreed to withdraw its lawsuit since the amended law no longer affected plaintiff Esther Koontz. Click here for the ACLU statement.
On June 16, 2017, HB 2409 was signed into law. This law will prohibit the state from contracting with or procuring from individuals and companies (defined to include organizations and associations that exist "for profitmaking purposes or to otherwise secure economic advantage") unless they certify that they are not boycotting Israel.
- Read the bill: HB 2409
These bills are the result of a campaign to suppress Palestine human rights activism in the U.S. Israel's interest in restricting this activism should not override our constitutional right to advocate for change.
The good news is that your right to engage in boycotts related to Israeli human rights abuses and to advocate for BDS is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. None of the bills and resolutions described here prohibit you from engaging in BDS activities.
Whatever your views on Israel and Palestine, these bills should be of concern because they threaten the rights of everyone in the U.S. to take collective action to address injustice. Moreover, we should all be alarmed that a foreign government, Israel, is lobbying U.S. politicians to restrict our rights.