At a Glance
The Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on December 3, 2019 in support of the lower court’s decision to grant the preliminary injunction. On April 27, 2020, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the district court decision and remanded the case, finding that modifications to the Texas law and its application to plaintiffs made the case moot.
Amawi v. Paxton and Pluecker, et al. v. Board of Regents of the University of Houston System, et al. are two consolidated cases that challenge the 2017 Texas anti-BDS law that forbids the state from contracting with companies that boycott Israel. The Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that it should uphold the lower court’s decision granting a preliminary injunction against the law. This brief is part of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal’s work to challenge efforts to suppress First Amendment-protected activities in support of Palestinian rights, including attempts to restrict Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns. For more information about these efforts, see our joint report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S.
The plaintiffs-appellees are individuals, including a speech pathologist; two students; a freelance writer, speaker, and translator; and a radio reporter, who regularly contract with entities affiliated with the State of Texas. Because four of them refused to sign certifications indicating they would not engage in a boycott of Israel, they were denied contracts and lost work and payment. The district court in Texas granted plaintiffs' motions for a preliminary injunction, and the State of Texas appealed the case to the Fifth Circuit. The Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal’s brief describes the context of the broader, coordinated, and well-financed efforts by Israel-aligned groups to stifle a viewpoint in favor of Palestinian rights, as well as the long history of the tactic of boycotts to advocate for social change and the importance of the role of the courts in protecting First Amendment rights.