Standing Up for Civil Right to Boycott

Haseeb Abdullah Goes to the U.S. Supreme Court with His Challenge of Texas’ Statute Prohibiting the Right to Boycott

The civil litigation team in MLFA’s legal division filed a significant Petition to the Supreme Court this week on behalf of Haseeb Abdullah, highlighting the significance of boycotts as a peaceful form of protest – a tradition deeply embedded in American society.

On behalf of Mr. Abdullah, our legal team challenges Texas’ Anti-BDS law that affects the retirement funds of Texas public employees. Boycotts have been instrumental in creating social and procedural changes in lawful, non-violent ways throughout history, from colonial America’s trade boycott of Great Britain in the 1760s to the Montgomery bus boycotts in the 1950s.

Boycotts represent an important form of free speech for average citizens, a concept long protected in this country. They provide an impactful way for individuals to have their voices heard.

But Texas’ legislative and executive branches passed a statute penalizing companies that support these peaceful methods. The statute even further and imposes restrictions on retirement fund managers, requiring them to prioritize Texas’ self-created blacklist over their fiduciary duties.  The statute also grants immunity to the Texas Comptroller and the retirement fund managers for any violations of their fiduciary duties, and prohibits affected parties from suing to challenge decisions made under the statute.

Mr. Abdullah challenges this audacious attempt by Texas to grant itself wide-ranging immunity that undermines all existing checks and balances. He has a legal right, called standing, to bring his suit and assert that Texas cannot disregard the First Amendment rights of citizens.

The First Amendment ensures freedom of thought and speech, regardless of any one individual’s animosity toward the BDS movement. The wrongful dismissal of Mr. Abdullah’s case by the Fifth Circuit contradicts both other circuit courts’ rulings and the Supreme Court’s precedent, and ignores Mr. Abdullah’s constitutional right to be heard.

We hope the Supreme Court will grant Mr. Abdullah’s Petition and allow arguments on his case. Stay tuned for updates on this critical case as we continue to uphold the principles of free speech and peaceful protest.