Sen. Bart Hester, one of the sponsors of the Israel boycott law being challenged in a federal lawsuit by the Arkansas Times, tells the Associated Press the law will be changed in the coming legislative session.
The law requires government contractors to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel or take a 20 percent cost reduction. The Times, in a lawsuit by the ACLU, argues this is an unconstitutional limitation on free speech. The Times has not editorialized on the issue, but the peril is clear when government gets in the business of punishing those who hold positions at variance with majority legislative sentiment.
A state senator who sponsored Arkansas’ restriction said he also planned to call for changes to the state’s law, but declined to detail the proposed modifications.
“I think this lawsuit will be moot in a short amount of time,” Republican Sen. Bart Hester said.
I guess mootness, in a practical sense, will depend on the nature of the replacement law. Meanwhile, the legal expense clock runs.
Similar laws have been struck down in other states. It is not the first time the Arkansas legislature has passed a law with clear constitutional flaws. Nor will it be the last. Legislation proposed for 2019 already includes, for example, an anti-abortion measure struck down in other states aimed at preventing abortions of fetuses diagnosed with Down syndrome. Sponsor: Sen. Trent Garner, who also doesn’t like 1st Amendment freedoms for a certain black judge in Pulaski County. Propose a little gun safety, however, and you’ve got a fight on your hands.