Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a motion urging a federal judge to throw out lawsuits challenging the state law that prohibits anybody who has a contract with the state from participating in or doing business with any organization which promotes hatred of Israel, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
One lawsuit was filed by a speech pathologist in the Pflugerville ISD, the other by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four individuals. They claim that the law, which was passed by the 2017 session of the Texas Legislature, is a violation of their rights to free speech and free association.
Paxton says participation in what is called the Boycott, Difersify Sanctions movement, which claims to support Palestinians, but has been labeled by several groups as an Anti-Semitic attack on the Jewish state, is what the law specifically forbids anybody who has any contract from the state from participating in. He says BDS is no different than any other type of 'discrimination,' and the state has the right to fight back against bigoted speech.
“Texas law simply provides that if you choose to engage in nationality-based discrimination, then you may be choosing to forgo the privilege of receiving taxpayer money,” Paxton said. “The state of Texas has the right to boycott boycotters in this instance. Doing so does not suppress protected speech or expression. The law supports a long-established principle of non-discrimination, and the motions for a preliminary injunction should be denied.”
Paxton pointed out that the Texas law is far from unique. Nearly half of all states now have laws prohibiting their contractors from doing business with companies that promote or participate int he BDS movement. Paxton says the laws do not forbid people from exercising their rights to speak out, they just can't take Texas taxpayer dollars while they do it.
Many analysts say this may be a case of 'be careful what you wish for' by the liberal groups which have filed the lawsuits. They point out that local governments use their contracting power to enforce several social changes that liberals support. For example, Bexar County Comissioners require that any company that contracts with the county pay workers a minimum wage which is far higher than the Texas minimum wage of $7.25. Analysts say a ruling on behalf of the plaintiffs in this lawsuit may block governments from using their significant contracting power to promote what they see as meaningful social change.