Judge muzzles progressive Democrat advocating Column 1 team in Roselle

A Union County Superior Court judge, who was a Republican New Providence councilman before he was appointed to the bench by Governor Chris Christie, has imposed restraints on the progressive Democratic activist championing the election of Column 1 school board candidates in Roselle.

James J. Devine, a progressive strategist who served as political director at the New Jersey Democratic State Committee in 1992-93, was ordered to stop circulating material about the election in an unusual application of temporary restraints on behalf of power brokers in Trenton. 

“I have fought against corporate corruption all over New Jersey, and I know we cannot be distracted by a frivolous trademark lawsuit,” said Devine. “I legally created an organization, legally created a website, and fulfilled my campaign finance reporting responsibilities so it is unfortunate that the important issues are part of a pointless dispute. It is appalling that power brokers resort to such tactics to silence the progressive movement but we shall not be deterred.”

That snafu gave lawyers an opening to prevent the progressive group from speaking out about issues at stake in the upcoming election, but members said they are not going to be distracted “because Gisselle Bond, Yessica Chavez, and France Cortez are the best candidates.”

“Our volunteers are reaching thousands of voters in critical state and local races in Roselle, answering questions, providing critical voting information, and driving huge turnout for progressives up and down the ballot. Nothing is going to stop us from making sure people have the power to choose their elected leaders,” said Carlos Riveria, a progressive advocate.

Devine has been a key Democratic Party strategist since 1980 and he was a candidate for General Assembly in Roselle in 1991, when he challenged a notorious bigot, then-Elizabeth Mayor Thomas G. Dunn, the man who ordered police to shoot Black people in the Union County city around the time of the Newark racial rebellion. 

The progressive Democratic strategist deployed a mailing to Roselle voters letting them know that local Democratic leaders, including Assemblyman Jamel Holley, former Mayor Garrett Smith and various past and present borough council members.

“This kind of censorship, known as prior restraint, is almost always considered unconstitutional by the courts — but that hasn’t kept private parties or government entities from trying to silence critics with such orders,” said Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

“Our progressive path will be easier to blaze with the help of Gisselle Bond, Yessica Chavez, and France Cortez, because they are parents, professionals and seasoned advocates for high-quality schools who have the energy and experience to fulfill the needs of all of Roselle’s children,” said Rivera.

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