(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, 5/16/2020) — The Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma (ACLU of OK) today condemned the passage of an anti-free speech bill, HB 3967, in the Oklahoma Senate. The bill passed 75-20 out of the House in March.

“This bill sets a dangerous precedent by economically punishing small business owners who don’t agree politically with the legislature,” says Lani R. Habrock, CAIR-OK Government Affairs Director.

“It has long been recognized that boycotts are protected speech under the principles of the First Amendment,” said CAIR-OK Civil Rights Director Veronica Laizure. “If this bill is signed into law, we will be looking at every possible action to ensure the civil liberties of Oklahomans are protected.”

SEE: Full Video of Press Conference in Response to HB 3967
https://www.facebook.com/cairoklahoma/videos/2478878979030288/
SEE: McBride’s Pro-Israel, Anti-BDS Legislation Goes to Governor
https://www.okhouse.gov/members/District.aspx?District=53

“In the midst of a pandemic, the final item Senate leadership added to their agenda was this clearly unconstitutional bill. We are disappointed in the priorities of the Senate, but grateful for the legislators who gave voice to this attempt to infringe on the first amendment rights of Oklahoma business owners,’ said Nicole McAfee, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the ACLU of Oklahoma. “The lack of committee hearings in an attempt to allow the legislature to focus on COVID-19 response means this bill did not get the scrutiny it deserved from the legislature, or the public. It’s shameful to see this public health emergency used to advance legislators’ personal political agendas.”

Michael C. Redman, Interim Legal Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma, said, “The cornerstone of our Bill of Rights is the freedom of speech. Freedom of speech includes many forms, but political speech is seen as particularly important in our democratic society. House Bill 3967 places an unconstitutional burden on persons or entities who engage in certain political speech. The ACLU has been on the forefront of challenging this very type of legislation. If signed by the Governor, we anticipate challenging this law as an unconstitutional burden on the First Amendment right to engage in protected political speech. We do not believe that this law will survive constitutional scrutiny.”

CAIR, the ACLU, and other civil rights organizations have filed free speech lawsuits against similar laws in Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, and Texas, where CAIR won a landmark legal victory last year.

SEE: Texas Judge Blocks Law Banning Contractors from Engaging in Boycotts of Israel
https://www.texastribune.org/2019/04/25/judge-blocks-texas-law-banning-contractors-boycotting-israel/

BACKGROUND:

HB 3967, if enacted, would force businesses or individuals contracting with the state to certify that they will not engage in a boycott of goods or services from Israel. CAIR, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other civil rights organizations have filed free speech lawsuits against similar laws in Georgia, Arkansas, Arizona, Maryland, and Texas, where CAIR won a landmark legal victory last year.

CAIR Oklahoma’s HB 3967 Fact Sheet: https://www.cairoklahoma.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Anit-BDS-Bill-Data-Sheet.pdf

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

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