Federal judge dismisses challenge to Arkansas law requiring contractors pledge not to boycott Israel


(JTA) — A federal judge in Arkansas has dismissed a newspaper’s lawsuit challenging a 2017 state law requiring state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel.

Judge Brian Miller of the U.S. District Court in Little Rock on Wednesday dismissed the suit filed late last year by the Arkansas Times. The newspaper does not boycott Israel.

The publisher of the newspaper filed the suit after a regular advertiser, the University of Arkansas Pulaski Technical College, refused to place advertising in the newspaper unless it signed the pledge. If the college had decided to go ahead with the advertising, the newspaper would have been required to reduce its fee by 20 percent for not signing the pledge.

Miller said in his decision that the state’s law does not violate the First Amendment right to free speech, as the lawsuit charged, because the boycott ban would apply to its commercial activities and not to its editorial copy.

At least 26 states have passed legislation that prohibits boycotts against Israel. Some of those states, including Texas, Kansas and Arizona, also are facing legal challenges to the laws designed to combat the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Recommended from JTA