(OKLAHOMA CITY, OK 3/9/2020) – The Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-OK) and ACLU of Oklahoma today decried passage of HB 3967, which would prohibit the state of Oklahoma from entering into contracts with companies that advocate for boycotts, divestments, or sanctions of Israel, in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The bill, authored by Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore), passed on the House floor last Tuesday by a vote of 75-20.

SEE: Full Video of Press Conference in Response to HB 3967
https://www.facebook.com/cairoklahoma/videos/2478878979030288/
SEE: McBride Passes Pro-Israel, Anti-BDS Legislation
https://okhouse.gov/Media/News_Story.aspx?NewsID=5607

“Beyond the clear threat to the first amendment that this bill poses, HB3967 not only codifies discriminatory practices, but it is an overreach of government that harms the economic freedom of Oklahoma businesses and the state,” said Representative Chelsea Branham. “In the midst of our efforts and desire to continue developing the economic landscape across our state, it is a regressive move that limits the free market and has potential to damage our state economy.”

“This law sets a dangerous precedent by penalizing Oklahomans who participate in political boycotts and sends a message that our state will take action against speech it doesn’t like, even if that speech is protected by the Constitution,” said CAIR-OK Government Affairs Director Lani R. Habrock. “This bill is unconstitutional and was written in an election year to divide Oklahomans over the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, when in reality HB 3967 is about free speech. Supporting human rights abroad should not come at the expense of each other’s personal freedoms and rights.”

“The United States Supreme Court made clear in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware that political and economic boycotts are political speech fully protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution,” said Michael Redman, Interim Legal Director for the ACLU of Oklahoma. “This legislation seeks to impose a political litmus test upon persons who do business with the State of Oklahoma. The ACLU has a history of challenging such political litmus tests and, if enacted, we anticipate a challenge to this anti-boycott bill because it blatantly violates the First Amendment rights of individuals to engage in constitutionally protected boycotts.”

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/

“Representative McBride has copy and pasted an idea we see election-year after election-year as law-makers center their agendas on partisan, political pandering, at the expense of our most basic human rights. This bill sets a dangerous precedent in limiting political speech,” said Nicole McAfee, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the ACLU of Oklahoma. “Currently it is a framework that seems very far-removed from issues on the ground in Oklahoma, but given the retaliatory responses we’ve seen towards Oklahoma’s tribes in the latest round of compact negotiations, this could be a slippery slope towards punishing anyone who supports or opposes sovereign nations those in power target for political reasons. I hope the Senate will review the long history of such bills being struck down in court, and decide to focus their energy and attention towards the problems most harming their constituents, rather than racking up court costs on partisan legislation.”

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 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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