Defending Rights & Dissent Statement on Legal Challenge to Kansas Anti-Boycott Bill

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Defending Rights & Dissent remains adamantly opposed to any bill that curtails the right to boycott or in anyway penalizes individuals for exercising that right. As such, we have continuously opposed bills that penalize supporters of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) for Palestinian human rights. We have provided testimony, as well as, analysis of these flagrantly unconstitutional bills to a number of state legislatures.

Kansas is one such state that has passed such a bill. All contractors are required to certify they do not boycott Israel. Esther Koontz, a former math teacher, applied for a contract to train with Kansas Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnership to train teachers. While she was qualified to do so, she declined to certify that she did not boycott Israel and thus was denied the contract. Esther is a practicing Mennonite and her church has called for boycotts to advance Palestinian rights. Esther was also moved to support BDS in response to presentations about the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories made by members of her congregation. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing her in challenging the constitutionality of this bill.

Ester is a prime example of why we oppose these insidious, anti-free speech bills. She was denied a contract, because of her political speech and faith.

The Kansas anti-boycott bill, like all the other anti-boycott bills that have been passed, is unconstitutional.