Assistant AG Ensign asks judge to uphold Israel boycott ban during appeal


Boycotts of Israel by companies doing business with the state of Arizona are not protected under the First Amendment, according to an appeal filed by Assistant Attorney General Curtis Ensign.  

Boycotts of Israel by companies doing business with the state of Arizona are not protected under the First Amendment, according to an appeal filed by Assistant Attorney General Curtis Ensign.

Ensign filed a lawsuit in federal court contesting Judge Diane Humetewa’s ruling that such boycotts be treated as free speech, and petitioned the court to allow the ban to remain in place until the appeal is settled, according to a story in the Arizona Capitol Times.

As the Times story mentioned, allowing the judge’s original ruling to stand would require contracts with state and local government be rewritten to eliminate the prohibition against boycotts.

Humetewa made her ruling in a case brought by the ACLU, challenging a 2016 statute that made it mandatory for state contractors to pledge not to support or participate in anti-Israel boycotts.


Judge Diane Humetewa  

“Citizens do not surrender their First Amendment rights by accepting public employment,” Humetewa said in the Times article.

However, in his petition to Humetewa, Ensign noted the statute allowing bans against boycotts of Israel “was passed by bipartisan supermajorities” according to the state’s “democratic processes.” He noted federal policy prohibits boycotts of Israel.

The Attorney General’s office released a statement saying the goal was to uphold the laws passed by the Legislature.

“We’ve never said individuals don’t have a First Amendment right to act however they choose in their private lives,” said Katie Conner, spokesperson for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. “But if you’re a state contractor and receive taxpayer funds, you should not be discriminating on the basis of national origin.”

We’re disappointed a federal judge blocked enforcement of the law, and we’ve asked for a stay,” Conner added. “We will appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit, not just because we believe we’re legally right, but because it’s morally the right thing to do.“

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