Judge orders Christie: No more signs!

Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson issued an order against the Christie administration this afternoon. The order bars the administration from posting any more of the signs it previously placed on state government property around New Jersey. The signs falsely accused Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto of causing the current state shutdown.

Jacobson appeared sympathetic to NJEA’s argument that the signs are purely political speech and not merely informational as the state has attempted to assert, saying that NJEA has a “colorable” or plausible constitutional claim. To that end, she agreed to hear NJEA’s argument that the signs should be removed on constitutional grounds and ordered the state to file its response by Wednesday afternoon. Jacobson is scheduled hear arguments on Friday afternoon, at which time she will consider NJEA’s motion demanding that the signs be removed.

NJEA Director of Communications Steve Baker observed the signs affixed to government property on the morning of Saturday, July 1, just hours after Gov. Chris Christie ordered the shutdown. Because the signs were obviously political in nature, Baker asked if they could be removed. When state troopers denied that request, he then asked if NJEA members could post other political signs pointing to Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney as the true architects of the shutdown. That request was also rejected, leading to NJEA’s complaint against the Christie administration for unconstitutionally suppressing political speech based on its viewpoint.

Baker addressed why NJEA took up the matter. “Gov. Christie is treating the state of New Jersey as his own private property during this shutdown. He’s using state resources and state facilities to promote a blatantly political message, while preventing others from doing the same thing. During a week when we celebrate our freedoms and our democracy, we refuse to let our members’ free speech rights be suppressed by a governor who seems to have forgotten our nation’s core values.”

 

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