Applicants must agree to use distributed funds exclusively for their agreed upon project, which could including rebuilding a home or business.
The city of Dickinson, located southeast of Houston, recently posted to its website an application for hurricane fix grants from donations made toward rebuilding efforts. The State of Texas did pass a law forbidding the state from employing contractors who boycott Israel, but the city's form makes no indication that this is an extension of this law.
Dickinson, a city of about 19,000, was hit especially hard by Harvey. But then the application asks the applicant to pledge they won't boycott Israel. The Repair Grant offers financial aid to contractors trying to rebuild the city, but only if they agree to stand by the government's stance on supporting Israel.
"Dickinson's requirement is an egregious violation of the First Amendment, reminiscent of McCarthy-era loyalty oaths requiring Americans to disavow membership in the Communist party and other forms of "subversive" activity".
The primary goal of the law is to "scare people away" from participating in "protected First Amendment activity", Brian Hauss, an ACLU staff attorney said.
According to the ACLU, the Supreme Court ruled that political boycotts were protected under the First Amendment in the 1982 case NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co.The case involved white merchants in Claiborne County, Mississippi, who, after they'd been boycotted, attempted to sue the organizations and individuals that had participated in the boycott for lost earnings.
South Carolina's jobless rate dips in September to 3.9
Professional and business services saw the largest monthly decline, down 3,500 jobs. Construction and manufacturing jobs were up by a total of 3,600.
"In short, the Texas law being enforced by the City of Dickinson - as well as other cities throughout Texas, including Galveston, Austin and San Antonio - is leveraging vital government funds to suppress one side of a prominent public debate".
When Governor Abbott signed the law, he said boycotting Israel is anti-Texas. The teacher, Esther Koontz, did not sign the contract due to her religious beliefs, and was denied funding.
ACLU calls the Dickinson application a violation of free speech rights.
And, according to Hauss, Texas isn't the only place where similar anti-BDS laws have cropped up.
The ACLU is filing suit, arguing this is unconstitutional, and adding that it is "absolutely unconscionable for state and local governments to impose political litmus tests of disaster relief funds".