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Federal Judge Says Georgia’s Anti-BDS Law Violates First Amendment by Harper Neidig

A federal judge said that a Georgia law banning the state from doing business with anyone promoting a boycott of Israel violates the First Amendment. In a ruling issued Friday, District Court Judge Mark Cohen rejected state officials’ efforts to dismiss a lawsuit from Abby Martin, a progressive journalist and documentary filmmaker, challenging the law. Cohen said in a 29-page decision that the law “prohibits inherently expressive conduct protected by the First Amendment, burdens Martin’s right to free speech, and is not narrowly tailored to further a substantial state interest.” “Even assuming that Georgia’s interest in furthering foreign policy goals regarding relations with Israel is a substantial state interest, Defendants fail to explain how Martin’s advocacy of a boycott of Israel has any bearing on Georgia’s ability to advance foreign policy goals with Israel,” Cohen, who was appointed to the bench by former President Obama, wrote in the decision. The lawsuit is still in its early stages and Cohen has not yet ruled whether the state law should be struck down.

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