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Muslim group sues to block 'No Boycott of Israel' measure

AP  |  College Park 

Maryland's ban on contracting with businesses that tramples on the First Amendment rights of a who advocates for Palestinians, a Muslim group claims in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations' federal lawsuit seeks to block the state from enforcing an order that Gov signed in October 2017.

The order requires contractors to certify in writing that they don't The group's suit claims the order has an unconstitutional chilling effect on First Amendment-protected political advocacy supporting the

CAIR says 25 other states have enacted measures similar to Maryland's, through legislation or orders. CAIR said other federal lawsuits have challenged measures in Arizona, Arkansas, and

CAIR sued Hogan and state General on behalf of Syed Saqib Ali, a former state

Ali's lawsuit says the order bars him from bidding for because he supports boycotts of businesses and organizations that "contribute to the oppression of "

"Speech and advocacy related to the Israel-Palestine conflict is core political speech on a matter of public concern entitled to the highest levels of constitutional protection," the suit says.

Raquel Coombs, a for the general's office, said the hadn't seen the suit and doesn't comment on pending litigation. A for Hogan's office said, "We are confident that our order is completely consistent with the First Amendment and will be upheld in court."

Ali, a resident of Gaithersburg, served as a member of the House of Delegates from 2007 to 2011 and represented as a Democrat. He accused Hogan, a Republican, of making an "end around" the Legislature by signing the executive order after lawmakers repeatedly rejected several "anti-BDS" bills targeting the Palestinian-led Boycott, movement.

"This is unacceptable, and should know that our rights will not be stricken by him," Ali said at a conference in

The executive order says a based on religion, national origin or ethnicity is discriminatory. A business boycott of and its territories "is not a commercial decision made for business or economic reasons," it says.

"Contracting with business entities that discriminate make the State a passive participant in private-sector commercial discrimination," the order says.

In December, the Times sued to block a similar measure. That state law, which took effect in August 2017, requires contractors to reduce their fees by 20 percent if they don't sign a pledge not to boycott Israel.

Leslie Rutledge's office argued that boycotting Israel is not activity protected by the First Amendment.

"It is neither speech, nor is it conduct that is inherently expressive, nor associational activity that is afforded constitutional protection," wrote attorneys representing Rutledge's office.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, January 10 2019. 20:50 IST