The Thomas More Law Center (“TMLC”), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, MI, announced that yesterday afternoon it filed a Public Records Request with Bernards Township on behalf of Township resident Cody Smith. Mr. Smith had written a scathing letter to the Bernards Township Committee attacking “the stench” of secrecy surrounding the scheduled special meeting which had quickly been called for late Friday, April 21st.
That meeting was subsequently cancelled because of the lack of proper notice. Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of TMLC, observed, “Based on the timing of the meeting late in the day on Friday, the meeting agenda, and discovery that resolutions approving the settlements of both the DOJ and the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (Islamic Society) lawsuits had already been filed with the Township clerk, it is probable that a decision had already been secretly made and that the scheduled meeting was a mere formality.”
TMLC represents several Bernards Township residents who were served with intrusive and harassing subpoenas by Islamic Society attorneys. Their only involvement was to make public comments at a public Township hearing. They were non-parties to the lawsuit, had never had an official role in the Township and had no authority to deny the Islamic Society’s permit request. Nonetheless, the subpoenas demanded the production of emails, voice mails, text messages, and social media posts concerning Muslims, Islam, or anything to do with Muslim worship. The subpoenas clearly infringed upon their First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. The only purpose of the subpoenas was to punish residents who dared to oppose the Islamic Society’s request.
Thompson continued: “The Township Committee knows that its motivations for disapproving the proposed zoning changes were completely proper and were not animated by hatred for any person or group. Unfortunately, the tactics of intimidation waged by the Islamic Society and the deep-state Department of Justice attorneys, appointed by former Attorney General Eric Holder to carry-out his left-wing agenda, may have taken their toll.
“We filed this open records request to obtain the settlement agreements that we believe have already been tacitly agreed upon by the parties. In doing so, we hope to shine a light on the dark tactics employed by the Islamic Society, its attorneys, and deep-state attorneys within the Department of Justice.”