LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Legal Newsline) – A newspaper company has filed a suit to enjoin enforcement of an Arkansas law regarding Israel over allegations it is unconstitutional.
Arkansas Times LP filed a complaint on Dec. 11 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas Western Division against the trustees of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees seeking injunctive and declaratory relief.
According to the complaint, the plaintiff has contracted many times with Pulaski Technical College for advertising in the Arkansas Times weekly newspaper. The college became part of the University of Arkansas system in 2017 and the contracts are through the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, the suit states.
In 2017, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 710, which prohibits contracting with entities that boycott Israel. The suit states in October, the plaintiff and defendants were entering new contracts for advertising and that the plaintiff was required to sign a certification stating it is not currently engaged in and agrees not to engage in a boycott of Israel during the contract.
Plaintiff claims it does not currently engage in a boycott of Israel or Israeli-controlled territories. It alleges it is "unacceptable" for it to enter into a contract with the University of Arkansas "that is conditioned on the unconstitutional suppression of protected speech under the First Amendment" and has refused to sign the contract.
The plaintiff alleges the defendants' implementation of the Act's certification requirement violations the First Amendment.
The plaintiff seeks a declaration that the certification requirement in Act 710 violates the First and 14th Amendments, award of costs, attorney fees, and such other relief as the court would deem just and proper. It is represented by Bettina E. Brownstein of Bettina E. Brownstein Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas Western Division Case number 4:18-cv-00914-BSM