Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pastor's Wife Sues Over Kansas Israel Anti-Boycott Law

The ACLU today filed suit in federal district court in Kansas on behalf of a Mennonite woman challenging a Kansas statute that allows the state to enter contracts with companies or individuals only if they certify that they are not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel.  The complaint (full text) in Koontz v. Watson, (D KA, filed 10/11/2017), explains that Esther Koontz, the wife of a Mennonite pastor, following the recommendation in a resolution passed by the Mennonite Church USA is engaged in a boycott of consumer goods and services offered by Israeli companies and international companies operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.  The Kansas State Department of Education refuses to sign a contract with Koontz for her to serve as a teacher trainer in its Math & Science Partnerships program because she refuses to sign a boycott certification.  The complaint alleges that this violates her free speech and associational rights, amounts to viewpoint discrimination, and violates the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The ACLU has also submitted a Memorandum (full text) in support of Koontz's motion for a preliminary injunction.  ACLU issued a press release announcing the filing of the lawsuit.