The Deputy Attorney General has since weighed in advising the Superintendent of Elections, Patricia Dicostonza, that Giblin's assertion is inaccurate and that the County Administrative Building is not a polling place on a day that is not Election Day, a primary, or Board of Education election.
Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins told Cliffview Pilot that he disagreed and that the three Sheriff's Officers were also in violation of the ethics code of the County Administrative Code which "prohibits county employees from conducting such activity on county property." In the suit Burke contends that "this interpretation of the County Code, prohibiting Bergen County employees from expressing support for candidates for public office while off duty and out of uniform is an unconstitutional infringement of the free speech rights of Bergen County employees and such a statement is intended to and does chill protected speech." Burke goes on to state that these claims by Higgins "constitute threats, intimidation or coercion made unlawful by the New Jersey Civil Rights Act."
An Order to Show Cause for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraints was filed this afternoon seeking an order to:
- stop any person from being denied access to the county administration building on the basis of content-based restrictions,
- stopping the defendants from labeling the county administration building a polling place except for on Election Day, and days when primary and Board of Education elections are held,
- and stopping the defendants from making further threatening, harassing, or intimidating statements regarding the plaintiff's attempts to engage in protected speech and expressive activities.
The lawsuit against the County of Bergen, Kathleen Donovan, Brian Higgins, Bergen County Police Department, James Giblin, and John Does 1-10, will move forward.