Anti-Boycott Laws Don’t Violate the First Amendment

Yesterday, a federal court upheld an Arkansas law prohibiting state agencies from doing business with companies that boycott Israel. The law had been challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is also fighting similar laws in other states, and will no doubt do the same if Congress passes the currently proposed federal version. In Arizona, the ACLU won an injunction against such a measure; the case is now being heard by a federal appellate court. Alyza Lewin explains why, contrary to the ACLU’s claims, these laws do not violate the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech:

Federal, state, and local governments across the United States regularly and appropriately use conditions in government contracts to promote equality under the law, combat discrimination, and ensure that public funds are not used for illegal or invidious purposes. Conditions on contracting are a pillar of anti-discrimination laws at all levels of government. The First Amendment does not require the government to subsidize discriminatory conduct.

However, these regulations only target discriminatory conduct, not speech, by state contractors. Contractors may speak passionately, associate, and advocate openly in any forum and on any subject, even an anti-Israel boycott. They may also forgo state contracts if they choose to engage in an active boycott of Israel.

The ACLU’s position rests on a perverse interpretation: . . . that the government must subsidize discriminatory conduct. Such a rule is not required—or even supported—by the First Amendment. It conflicts with a deeply embedded web of federal, state, and local anti-discrimination laws. Government must have the power to discourage discriminatory boycotts by prescribing non-discrimination conditions in government contracts.

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Read more at Kol HaBirah

More about: American law, BDS, First Amendment, Politics & Current Affairs

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy