CAIR sues Gov. Hogan over free speech

Claims law prevents boycotts against Israel
Posted at 12:41 PM, Jan 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-09 18:04:00-05

BALTIMORE — The Governor of Maryland is facing a lawsuit over the first amendment.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is challenging the state's "No Boycott of Israel" or "anti-BDS" law that was enacted in 2017 by an executive order.

Members call the law unconstitutional and say it puts the interests of a foreign government above the rights of Marylanders.

Saqib Ali, the plaintiff on the lawsuit, became aware of the law while applying for a state contract to build software for insurance policies.

"I found that to apply for such a contract I would have to sign a pledge, an oath, a loyalty oath that said I am not and will not boycott Israel or any territories occupied by Israel during the term of the contract," Ali said in a press conference announcing the lawsuit Wednesday.

Ali refused to sign the pledge.

"I do boycott Israel and the illegal occupied territories because Palestinians are not free. They live under a brutal military occupation and until that occupation is ended, I decided that I will boycott Israel. It is my first amendment right. It is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution," Ali said. "When the Governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, demands that I give up my first amendment rights to apply for a contract, he is violating my free speech, my right to free speech and I will not have that."

Texas, Arkansas, Arizona and Kansas are facing similar lawsuits over first amendment protections.