I have no idea how I managed to miss this during the 2017 regular session, but a friend passes along a picture of a state purchase order with some…interesting…language on it:
In case you can’t see the image, it reads:
As required under Arkansas Code Annotated 25-1-503, by accepting this Purchase Order and submitting an invoice, you, the Vendor, agree and certify that you do not currently boycott Israel, and will not boycott Israel during any time in which you are engaged in a contract, including Purchase Order, with the Department of Human Services.
Weird comma-splice and grammatical errors aside, you might still be wondering what the hell this is about. (Apparently, it is on all state purchase orders now.)
The answer, as always, is that some folks in the Arkansas General Assembly thought that encoding weirdly specific white Christian beliefs into state law was a good idea. This time, it was Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) and Jim Dotson (R-Bentonville). [footnote]Gee…two white dudes from NWA are vocally pro-Israel. What are the odds??[/footnote]
The law that gave rise to the statute referenced in the picture is about what you would expect. No need to rehash it here for the most part. Apparently, such laws have popped up in a variety of states, generally following the exact same template. I can’t see that the laws have had much effect in any of the states where they have been enacted, and I certainly can’t imagine that it will mean much of anything in Arkansas. But, hey, any time the General Assembly can waste on some meaningless pandering is time that they don’t have available to pass their general brand of bigoted, economically ignorant, or blatantly unconstitutional legislation.
Speaking of constitutionality, the same person who passed the picture along also asked if this was constitutional. The ACLU doesn’t think so; they’ve recently filed suit challenging Arizona’s ban. Overall, I agree with their main argument that the bans are restricting the free speech and political speech of businesses (remember Mitt Romney’s famous “corporations are people, my friend”?). At the same time, while I could see a Federal District Court judge finding the law unconstitutional, and maybe even some Federal Courts of Appeals, I am nowhere close to believing that the current United States Supreme Court would agree.[footnote]I could be wrong: Justice Kennedy is always enough of a wildcard that no one can say for certain.[/footnote]