Court keeps anti-BDS law in place, striking down earlier decision

A federal appeals court in St. Louis has upheld an Arkansas court decision that required all state contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel.
The ruling overturns an earlier decision made last year by a panel of three judges from the same court, the 8th U.S.
The Arkansas Times argued the law violated its First Amendment rights.
The Arkansas Times and the University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College had previously engaged in a contract wherein the Times received ad revenue from the college.
The publisher of the Arkansas Times, Alan Leveritt, wrote a New York Times opinion piece defending his position.
The court determined that economic boycotts did not implicate the First Amendment as they were neither speech nor expressive conduct.
However, the decision was appealed and a divided panel on the 8th Circuit Court then ruled the certification requirement was unconstitutional.
"Arkansas politicians had no business penalizing our clients for refusing to participate in this ideological litmus test," said Holly Dickson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, representing the Arkansas Times during the case.
The court ultimately ruled in favor of the college, writing that the Arkansas Supreme Court would interpret Act 710 as "prohibiting purely commercial, non-expressive conduct."
The appellate court ruled the certification did not ban the Arkansas Times from publicly criticizing or protesting the statute.
Other states, including Arizona, Kansas and Texas, have enacted similar measures to Arkansas' law.
Opponents of the law are expected to appeal the court's decision, which could mean an eventual hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court.