Electronic Intifada -Israel and its surrogates suffered a significant defeat last week, when a federal court in Washington, DC, threw out a key claim in a lawsuit against the American Studies Association for its resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.
The lawsuit, filed by current and former members of the ASA last year, argued that the 2013 resolution was a breach of contract because it did not fall within the scope of the group’s mission.
The complaint appeared to be a test of a new lawfare tactic that accuses an entity of acting beyond its chartered purpose – a claim that it is acting ultra vires, in legal language.
Anti-Palestinian activists hoped the strategy could be used to thwart other academic groups adopting boycott resolutions.
But US District Judge Rudolph Contreras dismissed the claim on 31 March, writing that the boycott resolution was enacted “in furtherance of the ASA’s purpose of advancing education and the promotion of the study of American culture.”
“The boycott resolution was aimed both at encouraging academic freedom for Palestinians and strengthening relations between American institutions and Palestinians,” the judge wrote. “Thus, it was not contrary to the ASA’s express purposes.”
“The court echoed what we’ve been saying all along,” Radhika Sainath, an attorney with Palestine Legal, said in a statement. “Significant victory”
The judge is allowing other parts of the lawsuit to proceed, among them accusations of “breach of contract” and “corporate waste.” The next phase is discovery, which involves the parties disclosing information and evidence to each other.
Nevertheless, Palestine Legal says the ruling is a significant victory.
“Israel advocacy groups are throwing every legal argument at this movement to see what will stick, and nothing’s sticking,” Sainath said.