At a Glance
Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal filed an amicus brief arguing the appellate court should affirm the lower court decision granting the motion for a preliminary injunction on June 22, 2022.
A & R Engineering & Testing, Inc. v. Paxton was brought by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on behalf of A & R Engineering, a company owned by Rasmy Hassouna, a Houston-based engineer originally from the Gaza Strip. A & R Engineering contracts with the state of Texas, and Mr. Hassouna refuses to sign what is effectively an Israel loyalty oath that is required by Texas's amended anti-boycott law. A federal judge ruled in favor of Mr. Hassouna’s company in January 2022, blocking enforcement of the revised law. Our amicus brief describes how these laws fit into a broader campaign seeking to silence the movement for Palestinian rights – and how they are often misused to chill even more speech than they initially target. The 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.
In 2017, Texas passed a law requiring anyone who contracts with the state to sign a pledge that they do not and will not boycott Israel in order to get paid for their services. In 2018, elementary school speech pathologist Bahia Amawi made headlines after she was unable to renew her contract because she refused to sign a pledge that she would not boycott Israel. Ms. Amawi and several other Texans sued the state for violating their First Amendment rights in lawsuits brought by the ACLU and CAIR. In a joint decision on the lawsuits, a federal judge blocked enforcement of the law in April 2019, citing First Amendment concerns.
Texas responded by filing an appeal and passing the amended law (currently under consideration) to exclude the plaintiffs by focusing on companies with 10 or more employees and contracts greater than $100,000. While the revised law mooted the previous lawsuits, its underlying First Amendment challenges remain, prompting this case.