US/World News

ACLU lawsuit challenges Kansas law targeting Israel boycotters

(JTA) – The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit challenging a Kansas law banning state business with companies that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS, against Israel. The ACLU said Oct. 11 it was representing a public school math teacher who was denied a state contract because she participates in the anti-Israel boycott.

The law, which took effect on July 1, requires that any person or company that contracts with the state submit a written certification that they are “not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.” The ACLU said that requiring teacher Esther Koontz to certify that she won’t boycott Israel violates her First Amendment rights. The ACLU said it takes no position on the boycott of Israel or any other country.

Koontz, who said she shares her opposition to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians with other members of her Mennonite congregation in Hutchinson, Kansas, sought a training position with the Kansas Department of Education. “You don’t need to share my beliefs or agree with my decisions to understand that this law violates my free speech rights. The state should not be telling people what causes they can or can’t support,” Koontz said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that I can’t be a math trainer for the state of Kansas because of my political views about human rights across the globe.”

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