Lawyers for the ACLU of Arkansas, representing the Arkansas Times, will file today an appeal of federal Judge Brian Miller’s rejection of our challenge of the state law that requires us to sign a political pledge to do business with Arkansas.
The pledge law specifically requires state vendors to pledge not to engage in boycotts of Israel to do business. Alternately, vendors can take a reduction in price for their goods and services. As publisher Alan Leveritt put it:
For the record, we do not intend to boycott anyone. However to allow anyone, particularly government to force the press to take a political position in return for business is antithetical to the idea of a free press.
Brian Miller didn’t think so, though judges in other states have agreed with similar challenges. So we’ll appeal his decision denying an injunction against the state.
Meanwhile, Leveritt wrote more extensively on the subject at the ACLU blog.
More here from the ACLU. In part:
“The district court’s decision would radically limit the First Amendment right to boycott if allowed to stand,” said Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. “Allowing the government to force people to relinquish their First Amendment rights or pay a penalty for expressing certain political beliefs disfavored by the government would set a dangerous precedent. This ‘pay-to-say’ tax is blatantly unconstitutional and we’re committed to seeing the
law struck down.”
“I shudder to think what future state legislatures might do if more courts uphold laws like the one in Arkansas,” said Leveritt. “Could blue state legislatures punish people who participate in boycotts of Planned Parenthood? Could red state legislatures prohibit boycotts of the NRA? The court got it wrong in our case, and there’s too much at stake to let this ruling stand.”