A US federal judge ruled Monday that Georgia’s anti-BDS law, which prohibits state contractors from boycotting Israel, violates the First Amendment and due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Abby Martin won her lawsuit against the University System of Georgia after Georgia Southern University (GSU) officials revoked Martin’s invitation to speak at the 2020 International Critical Media Library Conference. The HSU proposed contract with Martin contained a certificate stating: “You confirm that you are not currently boycotting Israel as defined by the OCGA and that you will not be participating in a boycott of Israel for the duration of this agreement.” Martin, a Israeli boycott advocate, who supports Palestinian rights and the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (“BDS”), refused to sign the agreement. As a result, the HSU revoked Martin’s invitation and canceled the conference.

Martin filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Georgia alleging that HSU had denied her the opportunity to showcase her work and that she would likely be prevented from speaking at other University System of Georgia campuses. She alleged that Section 50-5-85 of OCGA violated her freedom of speech, association and due process and petitioned the court to declare the law unconstitutional and order it to be enforced. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss Martin’s lawsuit, arguing that OCGA § 50-5-85 was constitutional.

The court ruled in Martin’s favor, finding that OCGA Section 50-5-85 implied the Contractors’ First Amendment rights because the certification requirement was “unconstitutional forced speech”. The court also found that the law violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it was “impermissibly vague” as a reasonable person could speculate on what conduct it prohibits.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund and CAIR National, which joined Martin in challenging Georgia’s anti-BDS law, called this victory a “huge victory”. Martin said that they “look”[s] insisted that the law be officially passed, but [is] very excited that Georgia’s anti-BDS law is now unenforceable as the judge ruled it unconstitutional.