A notice of appeal was filed Thursday in response to a federal judge's recent dismissal of a lawsuit challenging an Arkansas law requiring government contractors to vow not to boycott Israel.
The lawsuit was filed Dec. 11 by the Arkansas Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the Arkansas Times, a weekly magazine-style newspaper based in Little Rock. It took issue with Act 710 of 2017, which required any business contracting with a state entity to either make the pledge or reduce their fees by 20 percent.
The Times was affected when the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College refused to continue advertising in the publication, as it had for many years, unless the publication certified that it wouldn't boycott Israel during the duration of the contract.
Although publisher Alan Leveritt said the Times didn't have any plans to boycott Israel, it took issue with the requirement. The Times sought an injunction to halt enforcement of the law, but Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Miller dismissed the case on Jan 23, saying a boycott isn't protected by the First Amendment.
"The district court's decision would radically limit the First Amendment right to boycott if allowed to stand," Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas' executive director, said Thursday. "Allowing the government to force people to relinquish their First Amendment rights or pay a penalty for expressing certain political beliefs disfavored by the government would set a dangerous precedent. This 'pay-to-say' tax is blatantly unconstitutional and we're committed to seeing the law struck down."
Metro on 02/22/2019