PHOENIX — The Attorney General’s Office is asking a federal appellate court to overturn an injunction blocking the state from using its economic power to keep firms from boycotting Israel and companies that operate there.
In new legal filings Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Drew Ensign told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the anti-boycott law that Judge Diane Humetewa found legally flawed is being replaced. He said that makes the case moot.
The new legal papers acknowledge that the replacement language contains similar anti-boycott provisions, denying government contracts to firms that refuse to do business with Israel or boycott companies that do business with that country.
But Ensign said it does not apply to as many individuals and companies as the original law that Humetewa said appears constitutionally flawed.
And that narrowing, he argued, makes the new version a different and, he contends, legal measure.
The dispute surrounds efforts by Arizona lawmakers to combat locally the national BDS movement, which seeks to urge firms to boycott, divest and sanction Israel over its policies in dealing with Palestinians and what they see as illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and establishing Jewish settlements there.
As originally approved in 2016, the law requires companies to sign agreements that they will not engage in any boycotts of Israel as a condition of getting government contracts.
Last year, Humetewa barred the state from enforcing the law, saying it interferes with First Amendment rights.
The attorney general appealed. But in the interim, lawmakers approved a new version of the law last month; it will take effect later this year.
The big difference is that is applies only to companies of 10 or more employees with a contract of at least $100,000.
The appellate court is set to hear the case next month.