The Thomas More Society has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Angela Reading, a New Jersey mother, third-year law student, and regional board of education member, against the police chief of North Hanover Township and military personnel from the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
The suit, filed on March 15, 2023, alleges that the defendants violated Reading's civil rights by coercing the removal of her Facebook post, which criticized sexually explicit material displayed in a local elementary school, and then portraying her as a "security threat."In her November 22, 2022 Facebook post, Reading recounted attending an elementary school "math night" with her seven-year-old daughter and encountering LGBT-affirming posters that prompted her child to ask about "polysexuality."
Reading questioned why elementary school children were being encouraged to research topics of sexuality, which were not included in the state educational standards or the board of education-approved curriculum. She invited respectful debate on the matter.Christopher Ferrara, Thomas More Society Special Counsel, explained that the response to Reading's post was an outright censorship of her speech, followed by a smear campaign initiated by U.S. Army Reserve Major Christopher Schilling. Schilling emailed parents and school officials to condemn Reading and her actions, and then involved Joseph Vasquez, a U.S. Air Force civilian employee.
Vasquez forwarded Reading's post and Schilling's claims to the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness and the New Jersey State Police, hoping to trigger a widespread law enforcement "threat" alert regarding Reading based on her protected speech.Ferrara asserted that this intention to treat Reading's speech as an "incident" of potential or actual criminality constitutes a violation of her civil rights. The lawsuit outlines how members of the military, law enforcement, and the Township abused their power not only to censor Reading's speech but also to create public outrage directed against her.The complaint states that the defendants acted individually and in conspiracy with one another to deprive and chill Reading's exercise of her rights, which are protected by the United States and New Jersey constitutions as well as other laws.
As a result of the defendants' coordinated smear campaign, the Readings have faced demonization, harassment, trauma, and vilification within their community. They were forced to resign their school board positions and now feel compelled to seek costly alternative education for their children.Ferrara emphasized that the case centers on the conspiracy to punish a mother who opposed a public school's attempt to impose a "woke" ideology on her children and others, as well as her audacity to exercise her right to free speech in a peaceful manner within an appropriate forum.
The Thomas More Society attorneys aim to hold the defendants accountable for their actions and protect Reading's rights.The Verified Complaint for Civil Rights Violations and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief, Angela Reading v. North Hanover Township, New Jersey et al., was filed on March 15, 2023, in the United States Federal District Court for the District of New Jersey – Camden Vicinage.