DICKINSON

A prominent civil liberties organization Thursday issued a sharp rebuke of a city of Dickinson home repair grant application forbidding homeowners who receive the disaster aid from participating in a boycott of Israel.

Dickinson’s disaster grant application states that by signing it, “the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.”

The city said it was following a law passed by the state and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in May, which banned any contractor who supports the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS, campaign from receiving state funds.

But the requirement is unconstitutional and a clear violation of the First Amendment, the American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday.

The union filed a lawsuit earlier this month challenging a similar Kansas law on behalf of a high school math teacher who is being required by the state to certify that she won’t boycott Israel if she wants to take part in a teacher training program.

“The First Amendment protects Americans’ right to boycott, and the government cannot condition hurricane relief or any other public benefit on a commitment to refrain from protected political expression,” ACLU of Texas Legal Director Andre Segura said.

“Dickinson’s requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activity.”

Dickinson announced on social media Wednesday the grants were available, and commenters immediately questioned the requirement against boycotting Israel.

“Why on the last page does it talk about not boycotting Israel?” Baytown resident Tracy Martinez asked. “What does that have to do with receiving funds?”

“Oh wow. How is that legal?” another commenter, Matt Smith, asked.

The city pointed to a state law known as the “Anti-Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions” bill, which Dickinson has interpreted as a requirement for all city contracts.

The city opened the grant applications to Dickinson residents devastated by Hurricane Harvey. The grants are funded by donations to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund, the city said.

In May, Abbott signed into law House Bill 99, authored by Republican Texas House Rep. Phil King, prohibiting state agencies from contracting with, and certain public funds from investing in, companies that boycott Israel.

“As Israel’s No. 1 trading partner in the United States, Texas is proud to reaffirm its support for the people of Israel and we will continue to build on our historic partnership,” Abbott said on May 2.

“Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally.”

The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that political boycotts are protected by the First Amendment, the American Civil Liberties Union said. The ACLU has cited a 1982 Supreme Court ruling in NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. The decision in that case said that while states can regulate economic activities they cannot prohibit political boycotts.

Marissa Barnett: 409-683-5257; marissa.barnett@galvnews.com

(40) comments

PD Hyatt

Shock, shock.... The Anti-Christian League Union strikes again.... Does it really surprise anyone that they are against and hate Israel while they support the hatred of the terrorist Palestinians? The ACLU has done more to damage the moral fabric of this nation than any other group.... Of course that is what the leftist progressives want to happen....

James Danise

I will write something once I stop laughing!

Gary Scoggin

Can you please tell me how support of Israel applies to Harvey Relief? And, like James. Maybe then I can stop laughing.

Mark Aaron

Paul: [Shock, shock.... The Anti-Christian League Union strikes again.... Does it really surprise anyone that they are against and hate Israel while they support the hatred of the terrorist Palestinians? The ACLU has done more to damage the moral fabric of this nation than any other group.... Of course that is what the leftist progressives want to happen....]

Republican leaders and Republican congresspeople have passed a law saying if you want relief money (or anything else from the state) you have to Swear an Allegiance to Israel. Are you okay with that Paul?

Gary Scoggin

If this weren’t so serious, it would be laughable. I don’t agree with the ACLU that often but they are correct here. To couple forfeiture of freedom of speech with a disaster relief program turns the Constitution on its head. What if instead of supporting Israel, the law said you must support Planned Parenthood? Would these so called Conservatives be supportive then? No good Republican would stand for that. Again, Abbott, Patrick and those that support their theocratic agenda are showing themselves as the true RINOs in this state.

Gary Scoggin

Supporters this is not what a true Conservative would do.

Mark Aaron

Gary: [Supporters this is not what a true Conservative would do.]

Collective knees have already been jerked.

Carlos Ponce

Good for the City of Dickinson.
If the KKK called for the boycott of businesses owned by Black or Hispanics would the ACLU also support that boycott?
Boycotting Israel shows the same type of hatred.
Looks like the ACLU supports HATRED.
"For thus says the LORD of hosts, “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye."
Zechariah 2:8

Gary Scoggin

Carlos, So we are making Harvey Relief contingent on your interpretation of a verse from Zechariah. Should we make all public contracts contingent upon this? Are there any other Bible verses you’d like to throw in? I mean if we are going to make this country a Theocracy, why not see if we can out do Iran?

Carlos Ponce

Not just Zechariah but the entire Bible.
Countries will be judged on their treatment of Israel. Genesis 12:3, Isaiah 49: 25-26, Joel 3:2, Matthew 25:32
Zealous Iranians want to kill you if you do not convert.
Zealous Christians will pray for your conversion.
Which do you prefer?

Gary Scoggin

Carlos, I prefer to make my own decisions without the coercive power of government forcing me to choose.

Carlos Ponce

Gary posted: "Should we make all public contracts contingent upon this?"
Israel is America's strongest ally in the Middle East. Why support a policy which calls for the disparagement of an American friend and ally?

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [Why support a policy which calls for the disparagement of an American friend and ally? ]

Would you also support an oath never to protest France if the Texas legislature tells you to?

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [Boycotting Israel shows the same type of hatred. Looks like the ACLU supports HATRED.]

So you will happily Swear Allegiance to Israel if you use any state services, right Carlos? Anyone who doesn't is a bigot, a hater. Is that a correct representation of your belief? Yes?

Carlos Ponce

Allegiance to Israel? No. Support? Yes.
From CUFI.org
(Christians United For Israel)
We believe that the Jewish people have a right to live in their ancient land of Israel, and that the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of this historic right.

We maintain that there is no excuse for acts of terrorism against Israel and that Israel has the same right as every other nation to defend her citizens from such violent attacks.

We pledge to stand with our brothers and sisters in Israel and to speak out on their behalf whenever and wherever necessary until the attacks stop and they are finally living in peace and security with their neighbors.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [Allegiance to Israel? No. Support? Yes. From CUFI.org (Christians United For Israel)]

Do you also support "the wall of separation between church and state?"

https://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9806/danpre.html

If President Trump decides we will also Swear our Support for Russia will you be happy to do that too?

Gary Scoggin

Carlos: If the Jewish people have an ancient right to Israel, don’t Native Americans have the same right to Oklahoma?

Jim Forsythe

When the city asking for donations , they did  say, you can not donate if you are not loyal to Israel ? "The money came from“from the funds that were generously donated to the Dickinson Harvey Relief Fund,”  and now they want to put strings, on donated funds?

“Dickinson’s requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist Party and other forms of ‘subversive’ activity.”

Do we only have one ally? Are donation's covered under Anti-BDS?
How the law would apply to individuals seeking disaster relief — rather than businesses seeking contracts — is unclear.
"In May, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Anti-BDS (Boycott, Divestments, and Sanctions) bill into law. The statute “prohibits all state agencies from contracting with, and certain public funds from investing in, companies that boycott Israel,” according to the governor’s website. “Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas,” Abbott said at the bill’s signing. “We will not tolerate such actions against an important ally.”

But as the ACLU pointed out in the organization’s release on the Dickinson application, “The Supreme Court ruled decades ago that political boycotts are protected by the First Amendment, and other decisions have established that the government may not require individuals to sign a certification regarding their political expression in order to obtain employment, contracts, or other benefits.”
Earlier this month, the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging a similar anti-BDS law in Kansas.

Mark Aaron

This is what you get when you elect extremists to high office.

Carlos Ponce

They're not asking you to show loyalty to Israel, Jim.

Jim Forsythe

Carlos, please explain how this is HATRED?
By this line of thinking , India, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Japan,  France, Australia, Canada, Britain must be hated by
Texas ,because they were not included as a ally. . I guess Israel is are only ally! By not signing, this is Boycotting Israel?
By Dickinson taking this stand, and if they do not approve someone's application for this reason , they will be going to court over this?

Taking a Disaster and make it a loyalty test with funds, that are not the State of Texas's nor Dickinson , but the people that entrusted the City to distribute the funds, that were given as a gift of love.
This is what we want our Cities, and State to do ! To determine who is Loyal to another country.
If a person does not pass , say to bad, no help for you.
They do not require a person to sign a loyalty pledge to the USA, but to a foreign Country? 

Carlos Ponce

Hatred of Israel in boycotting Israeli products, services. There is a product sold locally called Sodastream. Add water and a flavor packet. It adds carbonation. Tastes good. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) called for the boycott of the product since it is made in Israel's West Bank. SodaStream operates its primary manufacturing plant in the Mishor Adumim industrial zone in the West Bank. Problem is many of their workers are Muslim and the boycott affected their jobs. In Israel you will find Jews, Muslims , Christians and the Sectarian working side by side.
Suppose BDS called for a boycott of American goods since it is said this country took land from the Native Americans, Mexicans. Would that be justified?

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [They're not asking you to show loyalty to Israel, Jim.]

Yeah, it's more like a demand.

Carlos Ponce

Little Marky, just showing support for America's friend and ally.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [Little Marky, just showing support for America's friend and ally. ]

No, requiring by law that you support Israel or no money? More like extortion actually. Isn't it?

Jim Forsythe

Loyalty is devotion and faithfulness to a cause, country, group, or person.

Gary Scoggin

By the way, Reps Bonnen and Faircloth and Sen. Taylor all voted for this bill. I'd love for them to pipe in here to explain their rationale. Perhaps the GDN could seek out their comments and have them explain to us why pledging not to boycott Israel should be a prerequisite for receiving Harvey aid. Perhaps Mr. Middleton would like to weigh in on this as well.

Mark Aaron

Gary: [By the way, Reps Bonnen and Faircloth and Sen. Taylor all voted for this bill. I'd love for them to pipe in here to explain their rationale.]

Yes, please.

Carlos Ponce

Common sense, Little Marky. Israel is America's friend and ally.

Jim Forsythe

I guess Israel is are only ally!

Carlos Ponce

Israel is not our only ally, Jim. But they have stood by us since President Truman recognized them.

Jim Forsythe

." But they have stood by us since President Truman recognized them". And our other ally's have not stood by us?
Why do we choose to put one of our ally's above the others? If it because of length of time as ally's, then the Netherlands should be the one that we are pushing.  "While on-and-off as a neutral nation, the Netherlands and the US have been close since the day we declared independence." When we hold one of our ally's up above the others , it weakens are bond with the rest.

Mark Aaron

Carlos: [Common sense, Little Marky. Israel is America's friend and ally. ]

So you believe government should be allowed to extort your support for a controversial ally or deny you disaster relief? And you are comfortable with that?

Let me clear up one other thing Carlos. You know how there are factions in the Republican Party, right? Are you part of the faction that believes in limited government, or not?

TR Galan

Just bizarre. It's tough to agree with the ACLU at times given the leftist dives but State of Texas boycotts in support of Israel? This is an account of how two plus two can’t equal four. Even, no especially, State officials should stay in their lane and focus on keeping the trains running on time. Period. Full stop. And the gentleman should focus on keeping his bible to himself.

Carlos Ponce

Sometimes you have to change lanes to stay ahead of the slow moving crowd. And scripture should be shared with everyone. Your option to read or not.

Staff
Marissa Barnett

Hi Gary and Mark,

Marissa here from The Daily News. On Friday, I asked our local lawmakers (who supported this law) to weigh in on whether people affected by Hurricane Harvey should be forced to adhere to this requirement in order to receive relief funds. I don't have responses yet, but we will get something in the paper ASAP.

Thanks for reading. Best,
M

Mark Aaron

Thank you Marissa.

Staff
Marissa Barnett

Hi Gary and Mark, Marissa here from The Daily News. On Friday, I asked our local lawmakers (who supported this law) to weigh in on whether people affected by Hurricane Harvey should be forced to adhere to this requirement in order to receive relief funds. I don't have responses yet, but we will get something in the paper ASAP. Thanks for reading. Best, M

Gary Scoggin

This application requires a person to surrender some of their First Amendment rights in order to sign. I wonder if those that support it would be so eager if it required surrendering some Second Amendment rights as well?

Gary Scoggin

This isn’t about supporting our allies, it’s about turning some people’s interpretation of the Bible into public policy. Which defies the First Amendment. But if you’re going to ignore part of the First Amendment, you might as well ignore all of it.

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