Koontz v. Watson

United States District Court, D. Kansas

In this lawsuit, plaintiff Esther Koontz seeks injunctive and declaratory relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. She asks the court to enjoin enforcement of a Kansas law requiring all persons who enter into a contract with the State of Kansas to certify that they are not engaged in a boycott of Israel. Ms. Koontz claims that this law violates both the First Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. This matter comes before the court on Ms. Koontz's Motion for Preliminary Injunction (Doc. 3). The parties have briefed the issue fully and presented oral argument on it.

Judging the constitutionality of democratically enacted laws is among "the gravest and most delicate" enterprises a federal court ever undertakes. Blodgett v. Holden, 275 U.S. 142, 147-48, 48 S.Ct. 105, 72 S.Ct. 206 (1927) (Holmes, J., concurring). But just as surely, following precedent is a core component of the rule of law. When the Supreme Court or our Circuit has established a clear rule of law, our court must follow it. Rodriguez de Quijas v. Shearson/Am. Express, Inc., 490 U.S. 477, 484, 109 S.Ct. 1917, 104 L.Ed.2d 526 (1989). As this Order explains, the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects the right to participate in a boycott like the one punished by the Kansas law. The court thus grants plaintiff's motion and imposes the preliminary injunction specified at the end of this Order.