Bernards Township, New Jersey officials have agreed to give The Islamic Society Of Basking Ridge (ISBR) $3.25 million and prohibit community members from even mentioning Islam or Muslims at an upcoming public hearing to approve said payout, which comes as a result of a ruling made earlier this year that Bernards Township officials discriminated against said Islamic group by preventing them from building a mosque.
The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) has decided to fight this agreement (which can be read in full here) on the grounds that it constitutes “suppression of speech.”
Said agreement states, in no uncertain terms, that issues related to Muslims or Islam cannot be discussed at the group meeting.
In a press release, TMLC states it has “filed a lawsuit in the New Jersey Federal Court on behalf of Christopher and Loretta Quick.”
The Quicks, TMLC’s release states, “reside within 200 feet of the proposed mosque construction in a zoned residential area. Yet, the settlement agreement prohibits them from describing the many unique features of Islamic worship which will impact design of the building, traffic density, water and sewage, traffic control problems, road construction, and parking arrangements.”
The release continues, “according to the settlement agreement, ISBR is permitted to make statements concerning Christians and Jews and their places of worship, but in contrast, the Agreement prohibits commentary relating to Islam or Muslims.”
TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson is quoted in the release as slamming the ISBR for its decision to play the victim in this matter.
“As we have previously documented, ISBR has taken the extraordinary step of concealing significant links on their website to a radical group named by the federal government as an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism financing trial in America history, the Islamic Society of North America (‘ISNA’),” Thompson is quoted as stating.
“While claiming that the Township had a religious animus against Muslims, ISBR hid from the public view its animus toward Christians and Jews, by not only hiding anti-Christian and anti-Semitic verses published on its website, but also hiding its significant ties to ISNA.”
Learn more about the conflict below.
In its lawsuit, TMLC states that the agreement reached between ISBR and Bernards Township “is unconstitutional in multiple respects.”
The suit states, “it suppresses speech based on its content, it constitutes a prior restraint on protected speech, it deprives Plaintiffs of procedural due process, and it violates the Establishment Clause by preferring Islam over other religions.”
“Therefore, pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments to Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Plaintiffs are entitled to relief from Defendants’ unconstitutional actions.”