Free Speech Under Fire in New Jersey

Author: Rory B. Bellows

A The Star Ledger reports on a court case that could severely damage the right to free speech. It seems that Pennsylvania resident Joseph Catullo, is hiring protestors, at the cost of $125 per day, to protest outside the offices of Warsay Capital, one of whose founders is Ray Chambers, a prominent philanthropist and one time owner of the New Jersey Nets.

It seems Chambers and Wersay Capital believe the placards the demonstrators are carrying are defamatory and part of their lawsuit is demanding the names of the demonstrators. The court has ordered Catullo to collect the names and addresses of anyone hired to protest Warsay in case the court rules in Warsay’s favor. The paper reports that some of these individuals have been subpoenaed and Warsay’s attorney wants them all to reveal their identity.

This should disturb anyone. Revealing personal information in order to protest is a back door way to silencing of free speech. If you have to turn your name, phone number and address over to people coordinating a protest because a court might later demand that information is a surefire way to keep people from exercising their constitutional rights. This opens the door to harassment and intimidation if institutions are allowed access to information they can use to track you down.

This is not to mention the fact that this could establish precedent to hold demonstrator’s liable for holding a placard or wearing a sandwich board. How can we expect political discourse if people are terrified of massive judgements against them if they want to do the most American of acts: express themselves?

The First Amendment was First for a reason. Our founders saw free speech as the antidote for tyranny. Without the freedom to gather, to assemble and to speak, we do not have a free society. The court should keep this in mind when they rule on this case.

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1 Response to “Free Speech Under Fire in New Jersey”


  1. 1 Tim Ramsey June 11, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog.

    Tim Ramsey


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