ACLU lawsuit in Kansas against state BDS law dismissed

Lawsuit backed by ACLU against Kansas anti-BDS law requiring state contractors not to boycott Israel dismissed by court.

JTA,

Gavel (illustration)
Gavel (illustration)
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A federal judge in Kansas dismissed a lawsuit over a state law requiring contractors to swear they will not boycott Israel.

The lawsuit in the U.S. Court for the District of Kansas was dismissed Friday after the state amended the legislation. The state still must pay $41,602.50 for the plaintiff’s legal fees.

The plaintiff, Esther Koontz, brought the case in October 2017 with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Koontz was denied a state contract because she participates in the anti-Israel boycott. The law, which took effect one year ago on July 1, 2017, 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 Kansas law, which went into effect last July, had required 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.”

Koontz, who said she shares her opposition to Israel’s policies with other members of her Mennonite congregation in Hutchinson, Kansas, had sought a training position with the Kansas Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnerships Program.

The court in January suspended the state law. In March, in an attempt to salvage the law, the Kansas legislature narrowed the scope of the legislation, making it apply only to businesses and not individuals, and made it apply only to contracts higher than $100,000.

The ACLU is mounting similar challenges to laws passed recently in other states that ban state entities from doing business with those who adhere to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel. It is also opposed to a proposed federal bill that would target BDS groups.


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