Supreme Court won't upset Arkansas anti-Israel boycott law

FILE - Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building at dusk on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to step into a legal fight over state laws that require contractors to pledge not to boycott Israel.

The justices rejected an appeal on behalf of an alternative weekly newspaper in Little Rock, Arkansas, that objected to a state law that reduces fees paid to contractors that refuse to sign the pledge.

The full federal appeals court in St. Louis upheld the law, overturning a three-judge panel's finding that it violated constitutional free speech rights.

Similar measures in Arizona, Kansas and Texas were initially blocked by courts, prompting lawmakers to focus only on larger contracts. Arkansas’ law applies to contracts worth $1,000 or more.

Republican legislators in Arkansas who drafted the 2017 law have said it wasn’t prompted by a specific incident in the state. It followed similar restrictions enacted by other states in response to a movement promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israeli institutions and businesses over the country’s treatment of Palestinians. Israeli officials said the campaign masked a deeper goal of delegitimizing and even destroying their country.

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