ACLU files federal lawsuit challenging Arizona anti-BDS law

(JTA) — The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit challenging an Arizona law that bars state and local governments from doing business with companies that boycott Israel and its settlements.

The law, which was passed in March 2016, requires that any company that contracts with the state submit a written certification that it is not currently boycotting Israel.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of an attorney who contracts with the state to provide legal services to people in jail. In his personal life, attorney Mikkel Jordahl refuses to purchase consumer goods and services offered by businesses that he says support Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. Jordahl wants to extend his boycott to his law firm and to use the firm to provide legal support to other organizations engaged in boycotts and related political expression.

“Whatever your stance on the boycott issue, everyone has a right to express their opinions on it and act accordingly,” Jordahl said in a statement. “The state has no right to tell private companies how to act when it has nothing to do with state business.”

The ACLU noted in a statement that the Supreme Court has ruled decades ago that political boycotts are free speech protected by the First Amendment. Other decisions have established that the government may not require individuals to sign a certification regarding their political expression in order to obtain employment, contracts, or other benefits, the ACLU said.

Similar anti-BDS laws have been passed in more than 20 states.

The ACLU is also currently pursuing a case filed in November against a similar law in Kansas.

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