Here we go again! Once again revisiting the question of free speech rights to display signs in a New Jersey HOA. In Mazdabrook v. Khan the appellate court revisited Twin Rivers and the underlying “test case’, State v. Schmidt, but with a different outcome in favor of free speech. I find it very interesting how our judicial system analyzes and bisects broad legal principles into 1001 “and, if or buts” micro-segments. How is the average person to know what is legal and what is not? Must he go to an attorney, who may or may not know but will take you to court to find out?
In Mazdabrook the homeowner placed campaign signs for his election as major of the town, not a for sale sign, but the HOA had governing documents permitting only for sale signs and no others. The court said No, No, No, that’s content-based restriction on commercial advertising and a constitutional violation of free speech rights and a total ban on other signs. In contrast to Twin Rivers, the HOA sign restriction to allow a sign in every window and one outside sign no more than three feet from the house was held not to be an unreasonable burden on the owner’s free speech rights. It cited the Restatement of Property “suggestion” that a covenant is not valid if it “not mentioning the obvious that a covenant is also invalid if it were unconstitutional.”
See, as to another question of reasonableness, the NJ Esposito case, In NJ, HOA boards do not have to be reasonable, and go figure how our judicial system works. See also the link to the Paula Franzese and Steven Siegel critique of the Twin Rivers decision in Rutgers Journal articles on HOAs and Twin Rivers case.
OF SPECIAL INTEREST and importance is the dissenting opinion of a judge who addressed such questions as: the waiver of one’s rights when simply taking possession of his deed, the implied consent to be governed, and a surprising reference to the waiver of ex post facto rights. Where did he get that from??? I wonder?
I’ve been told that the appellate decision has been appealed to the very same NJ Supreme Court, but oral arguments have not yet been heard. Also, the Rutgers Constitutional Law Clinic under Frank Askin, the party that represented the homeowners in Twin Rivers, has filed an amicus curiae brief for ACLU, and will be allowed to make an oral argument.
Mazdabrook v. Khan (N.J. Super. A.D., 2010, unpublished).
CBTR v. Twin Rivers, 929 A.2d 1060 (2007).
State v. Schmidt, 423 A.2d 615 (1980).