Arkansas Times joined in law challenge by friends of First Amendment | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Arkansas Times joined in law challenge by friends of First Amendment

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 at 12:12 PM

Briefs are stacking up in support of the Arkansas Times' challenge of a state law attempting to gag criticism of Israel.

The Times, represented by the ACLU, is appealing Judge Brian Miller's rejection of our lawsuit challenging a state law that requires state vendors to sign a pledge they won't boycott Israel to get state business or else to take a reduction in pay. The Times has never editorialized on the subject, but objects to promising silence on any potential editorial issue as a condition of doing business with Arkansas. Many media in the state apparently have been willing to make such a pledge perhaps because economic times are hard in the news business. Our refusal cost us business with the University of Arkansas, which is a defendant in the lawsuit.

The appeal process to the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is underway.

Among those who've filed requests to support our appeal are:

* The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 15 Media Organization. That brief was noted in a Democrat-Gazette article this morning.

* Georgetown Law's Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. Its filing, on behalf of two Jewish organizations — T'ruah and J Street —  also argues the law is a First Amendment violation. Their brief notes that while the groups do not support the BDS movement to boycott Israel "they are standing up to protect the First Amendment rights of those who do in order to support a productive public dialogue."

* The Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal and the law office of Matthew Strugar. A news release from them said the law violates the First Amendment and is part of a broader effort to suppress speech in support of Palestinian human rights.

* A Jewish Voice for Peace Inc, American Friends Service Committee, Friends of Sabeel North America, Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and US Palestinian Community Network

* The Council on American Islamic Relations.

Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Institute for Free Speech

* National Lawyers Guild and Project South

* Professor Lawrence Glickman.

There are as yet no "friends" filing in support of the Arkansas law, apart from Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Here's the Arkansas Times' opening brief.

UPDATE: The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University also joined the amici with a brief from 13 legal scholars. 

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