If you know Esther Koontz, you might not have been surprised that she has challenged a Kansas law
requiring contractors working with the state to sign a statement saying she won’t engage in a boycott of companies engaged in business in contested zones in Israel. Esther is a deeply principled, thoughtful person who loves both her job as a teacher (and as a teaching coach, which is where this disputed law came into her life) and the freedom of conscience that runs deep in Mennonite culture.
Above, Esther Koontz, the Kansas teacher challenging the idea that the state can force you to agree to a political position in order to hold a contracting job.
But if you know Kansas, you might not have had much faith that she was going to win.
And yet here were are: a federal judge just today
issued a preliminary injunction that forbids enforcing the law while Esther’s case, which has been taken up by the ACLU, moves forward.
The case is bigger than Esther or Kansas. Twenty states have laws that aim to curtail boycotts of companies operating on occupied territories. The win is thus bigger than Esther and her job as a teacher trainer, too. Says Brian Hauss, the ACLU’s attorney:
This ruling should serve as a warning to government officials around the country that the First Amendment prohibits the government from suppressing participation in political boycotts.
The judge is clear that the right to boycott is “a key tenet of the First Amendment” and that Kansas’ law is a likely violation of the First Amendment. You can read the full decision here.