Federal judge issues injunction against Texas Israel boycott law


(JTA) — A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction against a state law that bans state agencies from doing business with individuals or companies that boycott Israel.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman on Thursday issued the injunction, a month after hearing testimony in his courtroom from a Palestinian speech pathologist who lost her contract with a Texas school district after refusing to sign a contract that said she does not boycott Israel, the Austin Statesman reported.

The judge also denied motions to dismiss lawsuits related to the law filed by the University of Houston and Texas A&M, and two other school districts.

The law “threatens ‘to suppress unpopular ideas’ and ‘manipulate the public debate through coercion rather than persuasion’” and “no amount of narrowing its application will cure its constitutional infirmity,” Pitman wrote in his decision.

Earlier this month the Texas lawmakers worked to amend the law, passed in 2017, in order to neuter the lawsuits. The amendment, approved by the state House and working its way through the Senate would exempt individuals and businesses valued at less than $100,000 or employing fewer than ten full-time employees from the ban.

Over 25 states in recent years have passed similar laws which punish businesses that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Federal courts in Arizona and Kansas also have blocked similar state anti-boycott laws.

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