The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization today welcomed this afternoon’s landmark victory in CAIR’s First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of Bahia Amawi, the Texas speech language pathologist who lost her job because she refused to sign a “No Boycott of Israel” clause.
The CAIR Legal Defense Fund filed the lawsuit in December 2018 challenging Texas Anti-BDS Act, H.B. 89. CAIR actively challenges similar measures around the country, including in Arizona and Maryland.
This afternoon Judge Pitman of the Western District of Texas issued a 56-page opinion striking down H.B. 89, the Texas Anti-BDS Act, as facially unconstitutional.
READ: The Judge’s Opinion
The Court held that the Texas Anti-BDS Act “threatens to suppress unpopular ideas” and “manipulate the public debate” on Israel and Palestine “through coercion rather than persuasion.” The Court concluded: “This the First Amendment does not allow.”
Every single “No Boycott of Israel” clause in every single state contract in Texas has today been stricken as unconstitutional. The Attorney General of Texas is no longer permitted to include or enforce “No Boycott of Israel” clauses in any state contract.
Bahia Amawi can also now return to work as a speech language pathologist. Amawi received the news of her victory while driving, and pulled over to the side of the road to shed tears of joy. “God is great,” she exclaimed.
“This is a complete victory of the First Amendment against Texas’s attempts to suppress speech in support of Palestine,” said CAIR Senior Litigation Attorney Gadeir Abbas. “More importantly, it’s a complete victory for all Texans, to engage in political speech without government censorship.”
“The Court noted that, ‘At the heart of the First Amendment lies the principle that each person should decide for him or herself the ideas and beliefs deserving of expression, consideration, and adherence. Our political system and cultural life rest upon this ideal.’ This statute was unconstitutional from its inception, intended to gain cheap political points and tainted with anti-Muslim sentiments of its sponsors. I am proud to have served a small role on this team of excellent lawyers from CAIR National” said John T. Floyd, a Houston based Criminal Defense Attorney, who helped represent Amawi in this groundbreaking case.
“Bahia Amawi has been an inspiration to the Muslim community and all advocates for free speech in Texas,” said CAIR-Austin Executive Director Maira Sheikh.
“We’re gearing up for the fights in the other 26 states where anti-BDS laws have been passed and we are certain that we are on the right side of the constitution and history.” Arsalan Safiullah, CAIR Houston’s civil rights attorney explains, “This law clearly violated expressive rights guaranteed under the First Amendment. This is a victory, not just for Bahia but for all Texans.”