Boycotting Israel Isn't Free Speech

(Wall Street Journal) Eugene Kontorovich - 35 states have enacted laws barring taxpayer money from being used to contract with or invest in companies that boycott Israel. These laws are modeled on existing, and constitutionally uncontroversial, antidiscrimination laws that bar states from doing business with firms that boycott gays and other groups. But when the same logic was applied to protect Israelis, critics denounced the anti-BDS laws as unconstitutional violations of free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union launched a nationwide litigation campaign against the anti-BDS laws, claiming that the First Amendment protects companies' right to boycott Israel. On June 22, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that while a company's explanation of its boycott may be speech, the boycott itself is conduct. The court ruled that anti-BDS laws do not ban publicly criticizing Israel. They only prohibit "economic decisions that discriminate against Israel." The writer is director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Law School.

2022-07-07 00:00:00

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