The 8th Circuit’s attack on free speech in today’s Arkansas Times ruling
Breaking News: The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that boycotts are not protected by the First Amendment. @ACLU confirmed that he will take the case to the Supreme Court, with huge implications for free speech in America.🧵
—Julia Bacha (@juliabacha) June 22, 2022
This thread is an important commentary on the far-reaching implications of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decision against the Arkansas Times for refusing to submit to a state law requiring us to pledge not to boycott Israel as a condition of doing business with the state (or to accept a 20% reduction in our regular rates).
It’s an anti-boycott, anti-First Amendment ruling that is already being used to expand state legislative regimes to chill speech, for example to protect the fossil fuel industry.
The thread is from the director of a documentary film about what is at stake.
A final note: A Democrat-Gazette reporter today asked publisher Alan Leveritt how he could claim financial harm since we continued to sell advertising at the University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech campus. A 20% price reduction is a financial loss, that’s the simple answer.
The DG reporter doesn’t seem to think the state’s largest newspaper’s stance on a coerced loyalty oath is relevant. I think otherwise. The DG signed the pledge, Leveritt noted in a New York Times op-ed.
In case you missed this discussion earlier, the Arkansas Times took no position on the boycott of Israel movement and never wrote about it. We simply refuse on principle to sign a pledge ordered by the state. Forced speech as a condition of doing normal business with the state couldn’t be more antithetical to the First Amendment, no matter what Republican 8th Circuit justices might think. As Julia Bacha noted, Donald Kobes, the judge who wrote the opinion, is a Trump appointee who was classified as unqualified by the American Bar Association when he was nominated. He is also a former general counsel to Senator Mike Rounds, co-sponsor of the federal anti-BDS law. Kobes also apparently thinks the Boston Tea Party was not a speech but an economic activity.