Updates in order of most recent:
Sept 6, 2023 -- Email update from Bruce that essentially says we are taking it all the way to the United States Supreme Court! To do this, it involves a great deal of leg work, including professional binding of the case file so it is delivered like a book. This is what the Supreme Court requires. The cost to prepare the brief and binding is about $10,000, which isn't much when we have over 900 parents donating to our cause! Every little bit helps, and as soon as I finish updating this site and Facebook, I'm heading over to our Go Fund Me page to donate. Read Bruce's email below to hear why he thinks there is a strong chance our case will get accepted to be heard. It is still stunning to think that the forced masks in schools have not gone away completely and are currently back in some schools in Maryland, with the rumors that forced masks are on the way back in schools in more states, including NJ. Our case, and our supporters like you, have always been about one thing: you want to wear a mask? Go ahead, that's your choice, and we support choice. However, it is wrong to require masks on students in order to send them to school, and it will always be wrong! We are so thankful to Bruce and his legal team for continuing to fight this battle after 3 years! Thank you for your support!
Good afternoon, Everyone,
As you know, we are still litigating in the N.J. Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court. Yesterday, we filed the attached Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. Attached is a PDF version of the electronically-filed copy of the Petition. Along with this electronic version, 36 copies of the printed brief in the form of a printed and bound booklet have been sent by FedEx to the Court in Washington.
A Petition is the device that we use to ask the Supreme Court to take up our appeal of the U.S. Court of Appeals decision. In May the Court of Appeals held that because the Governor had formally withdrawn his orders, the issues as to student masking were "moot" and no longer justiciable. In addition, the district judge earlier had ruled against us, holding that children have limited speech and association rights under the First Amendment.
In the Petition, we have outlined our position as to these decisions -- we also describe the evolution in First Amendment law that covers children's communication rights. Please read the attached brief -- I think you will find it is a very persuasive discussion of the importance of the case. As you are probably aware, however, the U.S. Supreme Court gets approximately 8,000 requests each year and takes about one hundred cases. Numerically, it is always a long shot for any case to be taken but, here, we are dealing with a core First Amendment issue in a novel field.
Justice Gorsuch has spoken very eloquently this year (in a concurrence) as to the failure of the courts to adequately protect the rights of citizens against unilateral executive and agency orders arising from COVID. Justice Gorsuch is quoted at p.15 of the attached Petition. Hopefully, Justice Gorsuch maintains his interest in this subject and can persuade three other justices (probably the conservatives) to agree to take the case. We need four (4) votes on the court for the case to be taken.
Most likely, the court will decide if it is taking the case by mid-November. If so, briefs will be filed by each side no later than the end of February and the case would probably be argued in May or June. We shall see if they take up the case.
Unlike other courts, where briefs are photocopied, in the U.S. Supreme Court all briefs must be typeset and printed and bound in actual books and the process is substantially more expensive than ordinary copying. The attached Petition, containing both the argument and the appendix, cost $7,205 to typeset, print, bind and ship to the Court. The rebuttal brief will probably cost approximately $1,800 to print and bind.
As we are at the last stage in this litigation it may not surprise you that the cost for the printing and binding have used the balance of our crowd funds that you all diligently raised. We will need several thousand dollars at minimum to submit the rebuttal brief and substantially more if the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the case -- if so, a full brief and appendix will have to be prepared with their own separate costs, along with legal fees. Hopefully, we can engage in some additional fundraising to bring this to a final conclusion.
If the U.S. Supreme Court takes the case, it will be a historic decision and will have serious implications for the future. Hopefully, the matter will go forward!
AUGUST 16, 2023 :
Hello Everyone -- We are still here as we wait for the wheels of justice to turn.... on that note, there is an update from Bruce! Essentially, he is taking it up the chain of courts as far as he can go, and if they choose to ignore us and not hear our case, then we know we were silenced not by choice! To me, that matters a hell of a lot. We did not stay silent, nor will we ever!
UPDATE FROM BRUCE AFRAN ON OUR CASE:
Good morning, everyone. I was reminded today that I need to forward an update to the group. The reason for my silence is that there has been no news to report until very recently.
On July 14, 2023 the State filed its opposition to our Petition asking the N.J. Supreme Court to hear the masking litigation. As you will recall, we filed our Petition asking the N.J. Supreme Court to hear the state law masking claims after the Appellate Division dismissed on ground of mootness. Attached is our Petition and the State's opposition. We will be preparing a rebuttal brief.
With regard to the federal case, Justice Alito granted our request for an extension of time to file our Petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the U.S. Court of Appeals decision that dismissed the First Amendment action, also on mootness grounds. Our brief to the U.S. Supreme Court is due on September 3, 2023.
In both cases, the courts did not hear the merits but dismissed claiming the matter was moot since the "emergency" had concluded. As you can see from our attached Petition to the N.J. Supreme Court we are arguing that there were not sufficient grounds for mootness and that the matters are readily capable of repetition. We will make similar arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court but such arguments will be based on federal mootness decisions; in addition, we have presented evidence that the Governor's orders continue in force (albeit on a more limited scale) and can be resurrected at any time.
Recently, some U.S. Supreme Court Justices have commented negatively on the trend in the federal courts to dismiss such cases on ground of mootness, so I am hopeful that there will be sufficient interest among the conservative majority to grant review. In addition, we raise significant First Amendment issues in the federal case, an area that the U.S. Supreme Court traditionally gives close attention. Of course, it is impossible to predict if the Court will take the case. As noted above, our brief in the U.S. Supreme Court is due September 3, 2023. If the Court grants review, then we will have a larger merits brief to file several months later.
That is the status at this point but please feel free to forward any questions or comments. Obviously, if the two high courts do not agree to hear the cases, then the matter does come to an end.
January 14, 2023
Happy New Year, everyone. Our fight to free students from forced masks is still not over, which is sad in some ways, and good news in another way.
Refresher on what's going on:
Thanks to your support, we have two concurrent lawsuits that were filed in 2021:
LAWSUIT #1 filed in federal court in saying the mask mandate, specifically EO 251, is unconstitutional, and that forced masks in school in general (regardless of EO) is unconstitutional.
UPDATE: This was dismissed by Judge McNulty as being moot and we appealed it through the US Court of Appeals. We originally thought they would grant an oral argument, but they did not, stating that the briefs were thorough enough to make a decision one way or another. We are still waiting on that appeal decision -- HOWEVER, Bruce just received word THIS WEEK that the US Court Appeals wants both the State of NJ and Bruce to submit supplemental briefs by JANUARY 27TH on the question of whether the appeal is moot due to the EO 251 being retracted. Since 3 new districts have started forced masks again (Camden, Passaic, and Patterson), AND since Biden reasserted the state of emergency federally, Bruce strongly believes the US Court of Appeals will find the matter is NOT MOOT. Our legal brief addressed masking issues outside of EO 251 for this very reason. Our federal suit appeal is heating up! They are still paying attention.
LAWSUIT #2 filed in State Appellate Court arguing that the Governor has no legal authority to write the Executive Orders in the first place. We want to make sure that this never happens again.
UPDATE: This was dismissed as being "moot" because Gov. Murphy's Executive Orders expired. Remember early last year, the NJ legislature would not allow him to continue, and he declared another state of emergency above and beyond them, outside of their support. That went from about Feb 1 to March 7, at which point he gave control over to the Dept. of Health. That agency still recommends masks, thereby giving schools the illusion of power to force masks on kids to this day. HOWEVER, Bruce included that argument (agencies and schools) in his brief, just in case the court declared the argument about the Executive Orders moot. We appealed this decision from the US Court Appeals to the NJ Supreme Court. The appeal was filed last week, and is linked here: https://drive.google.com/.../19juLQWw9hAO.../view...
As always, you can find both briefs along with the timeline since we filed 2 years ago at WWW.FREENJKIDS.COM
If you follow this page, I know you're like me -- even if our kids' schools don't require masks anymore, we haven't forgotten about the kids in the districts still forced to wear masks every school day, all day, 3 years now. I can't even imagine the speech and reading issues for the little ones. We are still in this fight, as slow-going as it may be. Our time will come!
Most recent updates are made on the Facebook Page Class Action Lawsuit Free NJ Kids. I completely understand those choosing not to be on FB, and so I have copied my posts here for you.
1 / 11 / 2022 - Response to Murphy's declaration of a new Public Health Emergency: I talked with our attorney Bruce Afran regarding the Public Health Emergency. Our lawsuit filed in State Appellate Court is the fastest we can move regarding Murphy's actions today.
*Recap* This lawsuit says that Murphy has no legal authority to declare an emergency based on his reasoning because he offers no real data and only masks schools but no where else (Read the brief for the full argument here https://drive.google.com/.../1-OtrGUwc9GwYFDz0G1j.../view...)
The timeline again is as follows:
Our filing is on a 20-day hearing schedule based on when we filed Jan. 5th. The state has 10 days to respond. I will post their response when they file it. Then the Appellate Court has to schedule the hearing within 10 days after that, which brings us to around February 1st.
Please share this post so people know we are on it.
Thank you again for your support, we are all fighting this together.
December 13, 2021: Here is the link to today's Zoom Meeting where our amazing attorney Bruce Afran updates everyone on the status of our TWO concurrent lawsuits filed in federal and state court against Gov. Murphy Mask Mandates with EO 251 and 253. Then he opens it up to questions from parents on the Zoom including what Board Members who support the unmasking in schools can do, and the outrageous quarantining practices happening in schools. I think Bruce says it best: "What we have here is a disease of overreaching authority from top to bottom."
Bottom line: we are two lawsuits. It will take many lawsuits to stop the many levels of insanity going on - we need to flood the court system with lawsuits. You can go pro se or with an attorney. You can do what I did - there are thousands more people on board with what needs to be done compared to when I started in May. I am just like you - a mama/ papa bear who didn't know how to start except to take a small step every day and here we are now. I am with you all the way! https://youtu.be/YfEME5tuLfM
November 2021: Update On Status of Federal Lawsuit: Link to Zoom Recording
FAST FORWARD TO 1:27:00 (one hour and 27 minutes in) for beginning of meeting:
Notice of Appeal Doc Link https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cu-iq8yCBaY5EUDw9pYQ8l0OkzjFF5f0/view?usp=sharing
ATTACHED IS DOCUMENT LINK TO JUDGE MCNULTY DECISION RESULTING IN OUR IMMEDIATE APPEAL --
Dec 12 Message From Bruce Afran:
---- "All - attached is Judge McNulty's decision denying the application for the preliminary injunction. This means that the case can still go to trial before Judge McNulty but that he was not wiling to enter an injunction ahead of trial. His decision is actually favorable in many ways as he confirms that the masking orders do impact First Amendment rights of students and teachers. He concluded, however, that the order was the least intrusive means of addressing the health issues presented by Covid. Obviously, we disagree with this finding since no other alternatives were explored, i.e., limited mask usage in hallways but not classrooms, and the information presented by the Governor to support the medical basis is essentially speculative. The U.S, Court of Appeals will have complete jurisdiction over the appeal and will give no deference to Judge McNulty because he did not conduct a trial but only reviewed the paper record. We will file the appeal this weekend.
Feel free to post the decision and forward to anyone who requests to see a copy. It is not confidential."
Here is the link to Judge McNulty's decision https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ErslsrafVFpcn0K98N4BCKs8OxovIrTu/view?usp=sharinghttps://drive.google.com/file/d/1ErslsrafVFpcn0K98N4BCKs8OxovIrTu/view?usp=sharing
Nov. 2021 - UPDATE: Our 2 court cases are moving ahead!
While the judge denied our request for discovery showing all emails, meeting notes, etc, our case is still on the docket to be heard. We have lost nothing, the fight still goes on!
Lawsuit #1 filed in federal court saying the mask mandates are unconstitutional.
Lawsuit #2 filed in state appellate court claiming Governor has no legal authority to write the EOs.
Update direct message from Bruce Afran on both of these cases:
"Let me fill you all in on the schedule. We have a brief due, tentatively this Thursday, in the state appellate division case. I am working on that now concerning the legality of the governor's use of his executive order power. In addition, the federal judge wrote to us today setting a 14 day period for both sides to supplement their briefs ahead of a hearing on the preliminary injunction (to be scheduled). This will likely be the final stage in the case and, one way or the other, we will get a ruling from the trial court. After that, if necessary, the case can go to the court of appeals. So the cases are moving ahead."
Bruce is an amazing attorney putting in endless hours researching, preparing, and writing for the entire state of New Jersey- when we win, everyone wins.
Keep spreading the word and contribute what you can to Bruce's legal fund.https://gofund.me/132efac9