Jan 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Federal court blocks Texas from enforcing anti-Israel boycott law

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Photo: Patrick T. Fallon via Getty Images

A federal court on Friday blocked Texas from enforcing its anti-boycott, divestment and sanctions law against a Palestinian-American contractor.

Driving the news: U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen granted an injunction, blocking the state from enforcing the anti-boycott law against Rasmy Hassouna, the owner of Houston-based A&R Engineering and Testing Inc.

  • "The speech contemplated by [Rasmy’s company] may make some individuals — especially those who identify with Israel — uncomfortable, anxious, or even angry," Hanen wrote in the ruling.
  • "Nevertheless, speech — even speech that upsets other segments of the population — is protected by the First Amendment unless it escalates into violence and misconduct."

Catch up quick: Hassouna's company in October filed suit, arguing that the state's anti-boycott law violated the First Amendment, Al Jazeera reports.

  • Hassouna, who has worked with the city of Houston for 17 years, refused to sign a renewal of his contract with the city after lawyers demanded he agree to its terms prohibiting any BDS activity, per Al Jazeera.
  • "Texas’s ban on contracting with any boycotter of Israel constitutes viewpoint discrimination that chills constitutionally protected political advocacy in support of Palestine," attorneys for A&R Engineering wrote in the complaint.

What they're saying: The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which worked with Hassouna to file the suit, said the court ruling is "a major victory of the First Amendment against Texas’s repeated attempts to suppress speech in support of Palestine."

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