Monday, March 02, 2009

First Amendment Fiasco, Served Jersey-Style!

Just over a year ago we reported on this ugly little attempt to quell dissent in New Jersey (video at the link):

On Saturday, Jan. 19 [2008], police arrested two men who had leaflets and signs protesting Gov. Jon Corzine’s plan to drastically increase tolls. The setting was the town’s high school where Corzine was scheduled to appear at a town meeting to make his case for raising tolls. Before the governor arrived, some 10 toll increase opponents began distributing flyers and displaying signs that read “No toll hikes.” Among those were former Bogota, NJ, Mayor Steven Lonegan and Seth Grossman, an attorney.

Interesting to note that Mayor Lonegan is now running for Governor, positioning himslef as the most conservative Republican on the ballot. But what's the most fun is that Grossman (also a radio talk-show host) is now suing the state over the arrest, and rather than settling and facing the music over this thuggish behavior, Attorney Corporal (no General, she) Anne Milgram is trying to get the case thrown out because...well.....

I'll let Asbury Park-Press political columnist Bob Ingle report on the embarrassing fiasco this has become:

When Corzine took his pig-and-pony show to promote the toll hike scheme on the road to Cape May County, Seth Grossman and Steve Lonegan were arrested because they were handing out flyers and were in a group holding up anti-toll placards.

Grossman sued, and the state's intrepid legal force, led by Attorney General Annie "Got No Guns" Milgram, tried to get the case thrown out. Unfortunately for Milgram, it was in federal court in Camden, not before some political hack appointed by Corzine.

Milgram's minion, Larry Etzweiler, argued placards could be used as weapons and that the pamphlets could be incendiary because they called Corzine a liar. That sounds pretty much like what the British said about Thomas Paine. We fought a revolution to end that.

You have to hand it to U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle for his restraint in not laughing in Etzweiler's face, which is what a lame defense like his deserves.

Grossman, a lawyer with a radio show, Lonegan, a GOP candidate for governor, and the First Amendment won this round. Judge Simandle refused to toss the case. Milgram now can pay millions of taxpayer dollars to politically connected private lawyers to fight it.

They'll wind up losing, of course, and have to face the humiliating spectre of forking over millions more in damages to political opponents. But hey - there's no limit to the amount of taxpayer money that can - nay, must - be spent in order to avoid Jon Corzine facing the consequences of his own actions!

After all, Jon "Chavez" Corzine can always raise taxes further on residents and businesses, right? Right?

Hello? Anyone left in this state?

1 comment:

Jim - PRS said...

"placards could be used as weapons and that the pamphlets could be incendiary because they called Corzine a liar."


This is a case, where it would have been better to quietly concede liability and proceed directly to damages, which realistically, should not amount to much. Instead, the State has decided to jack up the ante with a patently idiotic argument.