The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against Maryland’s ban on contracting with businesses that boycott Israel, arguing it tramples on the First Amendment rights of a software engineer who advocates for Palestinian Arabs, The Associated Press reports.
The lawsuit seeks to block the state from enforcing an executive order that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed in October 2017.
The order bars the state from doing business with companies that boycott Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, and requires contractors to certify in writing that they do not boycott Israel.
The CAIR suit claims the order has an unconstitutional chilling effect on First Amendment-protected political advocacy supporting “Palestine”.
CAIR sued Hogan and state Attorney General Brian Frosh on behalf of software engineer Syed Saqib Ali, a former state legislator. Ali’s lawsuit says the order bars him from bidding for government software program contracts because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that “contribute to the oppression of Palestinians.”
“Speech and advocacy related to the Israel-Palestine conflict is core political speech on a matter of public concern entitled to the highest levels of constitutional protection,” the suit says, according to AP.