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Texas school district sued after employee fired when bc refused to pledge loyalty to Israel

https://www.newsweek.com/teacher-fi red-refusing-sign-pro-isr whatnext12/18/18
-- Very interesting -- Bahia Amawi, who had taught at t imoothereforeim12/18/18
"Blatantly unconstitutional." It 'feels' unconstitutional superttthero12/18/18
I think boycotting is speech, and I'd be surprised if case l jeffm12/18/18
Yeah boycotting is speech. imoothereforeim12/18/18
I don't know, I'm still thinking this. If a Federal agenc superttthero12/18/18
I think speech yields to performing your duties. If speech jeffm12/18/18
Yep. NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware. therewillbeblood12/18/18
My favorite Supreme Court case right there. It’s ridiculou jorgedeclaro12/19/18
I don't know about that, the Court pretty carefully disentan therewillbeblood12/20/18
By making it clear she can't keep her job unless she disavow whatnext12/18/18
Seems like a violation to me. The Israeli lobby has got t anotherjd12/18/18
If a state said, "you must sign a pledge that you will not d superttthero12/18/18
There are various states that say you can’t get government whatnext12/18/18
For the country and states and the businesses in the state, superttthero12/18/18
"Chapter 2270 of the Texas Government Code does not allow sc wutwutwut12/18/18
Yeah is everyone at ACLU asleep? imoothereforeim12/18/18
They have been fighting against a similar federal piece of l wutwutwut12/18/18
They should have followed SCt precedent for the Obamacare pe jeffm12/18/18
Stretching this a bit, the federal government by EO under th wutwutwut12/18/18
Why a school employee? Chapter 2270 doesn't seem to apply. jeffm12/18/18
Shoddy journalism, I think. Haven't had time to read more superttthero12/18/18
Right, as this story mentions, the SP was a contractor, not wutwutwut12/18/18
quite common for a speech pathologist to be a contractor - t williamdrayton12/18/18
Yeah. The SPs I know just do it part-time, like 10 hpw with wutwutwut12/18/18
Clear First Amendment violation as applied to an individual chicagojoe12/19/18
Yeah it’s dumbfounding. How is this woman going to boycott gladigotaphdinstead12/19/18
IIRC South Carolina passed some law that said criticizing Is walkingparadox12/20/18
Bad policy. Maybe unconstitutional. SCOTUS walked back prett jorgedeclaro12/19/18
I'm not seeing the analogy as applied to individual independ chicagojoe12/19/18
It does kind of reek of, "Thou shalt pledge allegiance to th jeffm12/20/18
Screw that. Good for her. What a bunch of crap. walkingparadox12/20/18
Well can’t argue with Rand Paul here. Ridiculous that ant whatnext01/10/19
Agree w Sen. Paul here, although I differ with him on others wutwutwut01/10/19



whatnext (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:11 pm)

https://www.newsweek.com/teacher-fired-refusing-sign-pro-israel-document-1262083

Blatantly unconstitutional. What an absurd requirement to make people sign.

https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1074729761363120129

"Texas stands with Israel. Period. #txlege"

So dumb.

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imoothereforeim (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:19 pm)

-- Very interesting --


Bahia Amawi, who had taught at the school district for nine years, was given a new contract in September. The document required her to affirm "that she does not currently boycott Israel and will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract." When she declined to sign, she "was forced to terminate her contractual relationship with the school district."

"I couldn’t in good conscience do that. If I did, I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus, become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully," she said, according to The Intercept.

In May 2017, Texas became the 17th state to prohibit contractors from supporting a boycott of Israel


-- I wonder states could legally require that --

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superttthero (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:24 pm)

"Blatantly unconstitutional."

It 'feels' unconstitutional, but why is it?

I think a state law that mandated a boycott could run afoul with Federal Law, but a state law that prohibits its citizens from actively boycotting Israel absent any Federal Law on the matter doesn't seem to create a supremacy problem?

Free speech? Is "boycotting" a foreign country speech?

I mean, without thinking more about it, I'd probably err on the side of calling it unconstitutional, but why do you think it is?

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jeffm (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:25 pm)

I think boycotting is speech, and I'd be surprised if case law did not exist which says so.

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imoothereforeim (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:26 pm)

Yeah boycotting is speech.

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superttthero (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:28 pm)

I don't know, I'm still thinking this.

If a Federal agency had a contract with Israel, and you had to travel there for work, I don't think you could use "speech" as a way to avoid "doing business" with Israel.

So even if it's "speech," I don't think this law necessarily would be unconstitutional if the Federal gov't did it, would it?

Here the wrinkle I see is that it's a state.

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jeffm (Dec 18, 2018 - 2:15 pm)

I think speech yields to performing your duties. If speech prevents you from performing your duties, you will have to be terminated.

That it is a state government makes no difference. The Incorporation Doctrine applied to the 14th Amendment makes it that way.

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therewillbeblood (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:39 pm)

Yep. NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware.

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jorgedeclaro (Dec 19, 2018 - 1:27 am)

My favorite Supreme Court case right there. It’s ridiculous in the sense that it bailed out the NAACP on what were really bad facts for the organization (if we see you going into those racist stores we’re going to break your damn necks, followed by gunshots and bricks into people’s houses). Nonetheless, it’s my go-to citation for any situation where someone tries to infer responsibility for conduct after threatened behavior. Never works though.

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therewillbeblood (Dec 20, 2018 - 11:32 am)

I don't know about that, the Court pretty carefully disentangled the illegal activities related to the boycott from the illegal ones.

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whatnext (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:29 pm)

By making it clear she can't keep her job unless she disavows her right to free speech wrt Israel, it's an obvious violation.

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anotherjd (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:57 pm)

Seems like a violation to me.

The Israeli lobby has got to be the strongest ever seen.

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superttthero (Dec 18, 2018 - 12:59 pm)

If a state said, "you must sign a pledge that you will not do business with Cuba or lose your job" would that be unconstitutional on free speech grounds?

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whatnext (Dec 18, 2018 - 1:06 pm)

There are various states that say you can’t get government contracts if your company is part of the BDS movement. That strikes me as unconstitutional (what’s it to New York if they give money to a company that does that), but I’m not sure it’s been challenged.

I can see zero interest here that justifies the state stifling the speech of school district employees.

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superttthero (Dec 18, 2018 - 1:27 pm)

For the country and states and the businesses in the state, Israel can be an important trading, information, security partner. Requiring businesses that the states contract with to not have a combative posture toward that foreign state could be an important interest.

Would you have a problem with NY saying that all businesses the state contracts with must be willing, hell even able, do business with NJ and not boycott that state?

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wutwutwut (Dec 18, 2018 - 1:35 pm)

"Chapter 2270 of the Texas Government Code does not allow school districts to hire a contractor unless the contract contains a written verification that the contractor does not boycott Israel"


and


"twenty-six states" now have such laws.


How long have these laws been on the books? Wondering why we haven't heard of other challenges.

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imoothereforeim (Dec 18, 2018 - 1:39 pm)

Yeah is everyone at ACLU asleep?

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wutwutwut (Dec 18, 2018 - 1:44 pm)

They have been fighting against a similar federal piece of legislation (from the story):



"Another measure to oppose boycotts of Israel, led in the Senate by Maryland Senator Ben Cardin, is taking place at the national level, although in varied form.

The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which was first introduced in 2017, aims to "amend the Export Administration Act," two people familiar with the legislation told Newsweek. "This bill updates 40-year-old law that applied to only countries and extends it to international governmental organizations," they said, adding that the legislation would to address commercial speech and individuals acting in official capacity "in contravention of foreign policy."

They said the bill would not apply to personal statements made in a non-official manner and "had nothing to do" with the legislation promoted by states. They said it addressed free speech concerns and would apply not just to Israel but to support for international boycotts of other U.S. allies.

The bill was drafted in response to the 2016 vote by the UN Human Rights Council to create a database naming companies that conduct business in the Palestinian territories

The proposed legislation has faced opposition from legal organizations like the ACLU, which objected to the minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in jail for offenders initially in the proposed bill. The legal organization criticized revisions to the bill introduced earlier this year, noting that the altered legislation still permitted criminal financial penalties for boycotts.

"You’re talking about First Amendment protected activities," ACLU Legislative and Advocacy Counsel Manar Waheed told Newsweek. "Any penalty violates the First Amendment, and you’re telling people that they can't engage in protest and boycott."

The bill has since removed the provision for jail time but maintained the possibility of monetary penalties. The ACLU said that a revised version of the bill still allowed for violators to be fined $1 million in criminal penalties."

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jeffm (Dec 18, 2018 - 2:23 pm)

They should have followed SCt precedent for the Obamacare penalty and disguised it as a tax.

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wutwutwut (Dec 18, 2018 - 1:41 pm)

Stretching this a bit, the federal government by EO under the Obama Administration took the legally protected class of sex and expanded it to gender identity, such that a contractor could be fired for making fun of (or permitting others to) a transgendered person in the workplace.

Is that a violation of the contractor's speech rights?

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jeffm (Dec 18, 2018 - 2:20 pm)

Why a school employee? Chapter 2270 doesn't seem to apply.

Sec. 2270.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:

(1) "Boycott Israel" has the meaning assigned by Section 808.001.

(2) "Company" has the meaning assigned by Section 808.001.

(3) "Governmental entity" has the meaning assigned by Section 2251.001.

Added by Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (H.B. 89), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2017.


Sec. 2270.002. PROVISION REQUIRED IN CONTRACT. A governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it:

(1) does not boycott Israel; and

(2) will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract.

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superttthero (Dec 18, 2018 - 2:22 pm)

Shoddy journalism, I think.

Haven't had time to read more on other sites, but it seems she wasn't a "teacher" or "employee" in the strict sense, but rather a "speech pathologist" and an "independent contractor."

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wutwutwut (Dec 18, 2018 - 2:46 pm)

Right, as this story mentions, the SP was a contractor, not that she was an employee. That was just in whatnext's headline and/or imagination.

However, Newsweek slants it too (or was shoddy, as you mentioned), putting the word "teacher" in the URL and saying she "taught" at the school. Certainly gives the impression she was employed at the same time as saying she was a contractor.

I know a few SPs and also some OT/PTs who are contracted to work in elementary schools, and none of them say what they do is "teaching".

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williamdrayton (Dec 18, 2018 - 5:52 pm)

quite common for a speech pathologist to be a contractor - they may even work in multiple small districts in a given geographic area - a small district can't justify a full-time person.

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wutwutwut (Dec 18, 2018 - 6:29 pm)

Yeah. The SPs I know just do it part-time, like 10 hpw with set "office hours". Basically they're SAHMs with nicely-paying side gigs.

Not dissing them for it; they all got the education/training/experience to enable them to do it this way now.

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chicagojoe (Dec 19, 2018 - 12:36 am)

Clear First Amendment violation as applied to an individual speech pathologist. What in the world is even the state's compelling interest in directing citizens' individual commercial relations with foreign powers? Texas is effectively barred by Article 1 from having independent foreign relations with Israel, so...

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gladigotaphdinstead (Dec 19, 2018 - 5:55 am)

Yeah it’s dumbfounding. How is this woman going to boycott Israel anyways?

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walkingparadox (Dec 20, 2018 - 10:32 am)

IIRC South Carolina passed some law that said criticizing Israel could be viewed as hate speech and a crime. I'm not sure if they was hyperbole or not, I'm trying to dig up the article I skimmed a few months back.

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jorgedeclaro (Dec 19, 2018 - 1:40 am)

Bad policy. Maybe unconstitutional. SCOTUS walked back pretty hard on whether labor boycotts constitute protected activity under the first amendment.

Both the cases that have addressed this so far have gone the Claiborne Hardware route (Arizona and Kansas). I’m not comfortable with the analysis of either decision. If correct, it would be a violation of the First Amendment to require contractors on federal projects to certify they are equal opportunity employers. Not saying the result is wrong, but the analysis is weak.

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chicagojoe (Dec 19, 2018 - 1:29 pm)

I'm not seeing the analogy as applied to individual independent contractors. I don't have the right to disciminate in ways outlawed by federal law. I do have the right to personally boycott foreign nation states whose policies I disagree with.

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jeffm (Dec 20, 2018 - 11:23 am)

It does kind of reek of, "Thou shalt pledge allegiance to the flag."

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walkingparadox (Dec 20, 2018 - 10:29 am)

Screw that. Good for her. What a bunch of crap.

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whatnext (Jan 10, 2019 - 10:38 pm)

Well can’t argue with Rand Paul here. Ridiculous that anti-BDS legislation is one of the few things to get bipartisan support these days.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/americans-have-a-right-to-boycott-even-when-its-wrong/

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wutwutwut (Jan 10, 2019 - 10:50 pm)

Agree w Sen. Paul here, although I differ with him on others.

But the federal government has also taken the position that the legally protected class of sex has been expanded to gender identity, such that a contractor could be fired for making fun of (or permitting others to) a transgendered person in the workplace.

Is that a violation of the contractor's speech rights?

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