Several organizations participated as friends-of-the-court. The ACLU of New Jersey, the ACLU, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, Sanctuary for Families, and Unchained at Last filed a brief to affirm that the state and federal constitutions protect speech by a person experiencing abuse and seeking her community’s support. The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot and the Shalom Task Force filed a brief explaining the social and cultural context of “get” refusal in Orthodox Jewish communities and the ramifications of silencing a person in that situation while they are asking for help     

NEWARK – A New Jersey appellate court reversed an unconstitutional trial court decision that prohibited a woman from speaking on social media about her desire to obtain a religious divorce from her husband, whom she described as abusive. L.B.B., as the Appellate Division referred to her, took to social media to express anguish that her husband was withholding a get—a bill of Jewish divorce important to certain observant Jews. She asked her community to press her husband to release her from their marriage. Accepting arguments grounded in antisemitic tropes, the trial court determined that L.B.B.’s plea for help was a form of harassment and an incitement to violence, and ordered L.B.B. to remove her posts and refrain from speaking again about her status as an agunah, or “chained woman.”  

In a published opinion, the unanimous three judge appellate panel ruled that the First Amendment and its state constitutional analog protect L.B.B.’s right to describe her experiences trapped in a religious marriage and to seek her community’s aid.  

Representatives of the amici released the following statements: 

Jeanne LoCicero, Legal Director of the ACLU of New Jersey:  
“Today’s decision makes clear that trial courts may not issue a gag order to prevent people involved in lawsuits from speaking out about their experiences and they may not punish people for engaging in speech. The First Amendment and the state constitution protect all New Jerseyans who want to share their stories and ask their communities for help, whether that be on a street corner or on a video posted to social media.” 

Sandra Park, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project: 

“Too often, survivors are punished for sharing their stories and seeking support from their communities. No one should be ordered to stop asking for help. We applaud the court for protecting survivors’ First Amendment right to speak out.” 

Hon. Judy Harris Kluger, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families:   

“The appellate decision shattered the premise that courts can be used to silence survivors of domestic violence when they speak out about their plight. Where there is a lack of equal access between the genders in religious court, and communal pressure is one of the few sanctioned remedies for Agunot, it is imperative that free speech rights remain protected. We look forward to the day when human dignity will prevail and Jewish women will be free to live a committed religious life in the wake of leaving an abusive marriage.” 

Daphne Lazar Price, Executive Director of Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (Jofa): 

“Too many decisions by the trial court in this case have been grounded in the antisemitic assumptions and tropes that Jewish people have outsized power and control within the legal system – a notion that is not based in reality. Jofa is committed to building an equitable Orthodox community, which is only possible if women are free to speak openly and publicly about their desire to leave religious marriages without facing any stigma. The Appellate Division’s decision affirms this freedom.” 

Fraidy Reiss, Founder/Executive Director of Unchained at Last: 

“When L tried to get help to end her suffering as an agunah, or 'chained woman,' the trial court responded by tightening her shackles and silencing her. Fortunately, the appellate decision dissolves her legal binds, freeing L to exercise her First Amendment rights.” 

Keshet Starr, C.E.O. of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA): 

“In ORA's extensive work advocating for women denied a Jewish divorce, we have seen firsthand the devastation of get refusal and the critical need for survivors to be able to make their voices heard. We applaud the court’s upholding of the right of agunot, those denied a Jewish divorce, to advocate for themselves within their communities without fear of repercussion. Get refusal is unquestionably a form of domestic abuse; today, the court has stood up for survivors and against abuse in all its forms.”