When BDS resolutions pass, it is very often because they have been introduced via the back door, without a chance for opposing voices to be heard. At the Olympia Food Co-op, a 2011 divestment resolution was introduced and voted on, in violation of its own bylaws.
Five co-op members sued. Olympic Co-op board members moved to dismiss the case and prevailed, arguing that it was a “SLAPP” lawsuit - strategic litigation against public policy. Under Washington State's anti-SLAPP statute, the court awarded the defendants attorneys fees and fined the pro-Israel plaintiffs penalties, leaving the plaintiffs facing nearly $232,000 in fees and penalties.
The new ruling held that the decision cut off the groups “constitutional rights of petition and jury trial”, and reversed the lower court, writing
This case requires us to decide the constitutionality of the Washington Act Limiting Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (anti-SLAPP statute).
“The legislature may enact anti-SLAPP laws to prevent vexatious litigants from abusing the judicial process by filing frivolous lawsuits for improper purposes. But the constitutional conundrum that RCW 4.24.525 creates is that it seeks to protect one group of citizen's constitutional rights of expression and petition—by cutting off another group's constitutional rights of petition and jury trial. This the legislature cannot do. See Opinion of the Justices, 134 N.H. 445, 641 A.2d 1012, 1015 (invalidating an anti-SLAPP bill because the law “cannot strengthen the constitutional rights of one group of citizens by infringing upon the rights of another group”). We hold RCW 4.24.525(4)(b) violates the right of trial by jury under article I, section 21 of the Washington Constitution because it requires a trial judge to invade the jury's province of resolving disputed facts and dismiss—and punish—non frivolous claims without a trial. We reverse the Court of Appeals and remand the case to the superior court for further proceedings.”
Thanks to the Seattle law firm of McNaul Ebel Nawrot & Helgren, for their help in ensuring this important victory.
For more information on the Olympia Food Co-op BDS case, see:
Justice prevails in Olympia
Big Win for Washington anti-BDS Activists
Washington Supreme Court Paves Way to Reopen Olympia Co-op BDS Case
US court ruling opens door to lawsuit against BDS
Breaking News!! BDS Defeat at Washington Supreme Court, May 28, 2015