Attorney General Ken Paxton – joined by his counterpart from Nevada – today filed an amicus brief with a U.S. District Court in support of an Arizona law that prevents state-funded contractors from boycotting Israel. The Texas and Nevada legislatures enacted similar laws in response to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, whose political goal is to change policy toward the State of Israel.
“The movement to boycott companies and citizens based on nothing more than the Israeli nationality listed on their articles of incorporation or passports is an attempt to cause economic isolation and injury to a key ally and trading partner of Texas and the rest of the United States,” Attorney General Paxton said. “Arizona’s law, which is similar to those in Texas, Nevada and many other states, simply supports a long-established principle of non-discrimination and is wholly constitutional.”
After Arizona’s law took effect in 2016, Mikkel Jordahl, a state contractor who is Anti-Israeli, balked at having to sign a form on behalf of his company certifying he was not engaged in any boycotts against Israel. The ACLU sued Arizona on his behalf, arguing that the state law violates Jordahl’s free speech rights.
“Mr. Jordahl has a near absolute right to express his views on Israel by declining to do business with Israeli companies,” Attorney General Paxton wrote in the brief. “But Arizona has an equally valid right to express the views of other individuals – the constituents who democratically govern expenditures as a policy matter – that Arizona should do business with those companies. And it can express this view by declining to do business with boycotters.”
Last year, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 89, which prohibits the state from contracting with and investing in companies that boycott Israel. Israel is Texas’ fourth biggest trading partner.