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Federal Judge Strikes Down Kansas BDS Law Similar To Arizona's

After a Kansas law prohibiting state contractors from participating in a boycott against Israel was struck down this week, a similar Arizona law could face the same result.

Boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, is a global movement that supporters say is designed to pressure Israel to comply with international law with regard to the country’s treatment of Palestinians.

Opponents of the movement call it an attack on Israel that bolsters antisemitism. But a federal judge ruled on Tuesday that the Kansas law infringed upon free speech.

A similar law was passed in Arizona in 2016. Brian Hauss with the ACLU says the ruling should serve as a warning to states across the country that boycotts are constitutionally protected speech.

"Governments cannot condition benefits," Hauss said. "Including public employment and government contracts on the forfeiture of First Amendment rights.”

Hauss believes there are about 16 states with such laws. The ACLU’s challenge to Arizona’s law is currently pending in federal District Court.

Jimmy Jenkins is a senior field correspondent at KJZZ and a contributor to NPR’s Election 2020 and Criminal Justice station collaborations. His work has been featured on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Marketplace, Here and Now, The Takeaway and NPR Newscasts.Originally from Terre Haute, Indiana, Jenkins has a B.S. in criminology from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University.Much of his reporting has focused on the criminal justice system. Jenkins has reported on Tasers, body cameras, use of force, jail privatization, prison health care and the criminal contempt trial of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.