N.J. high court limits homeowners association rules on political signs

New Jersey’s Supreme Court has ruled that are limits to the restrictions homeowners associations can put on residents.

The justices found an association’s ban on all political signs violates the free speech clause of the state Constitution.

The decision came in the case of Wasim Khan who was ordered by his homeowners association to remove signs in his own townhouse window when he was running for a Parsippany council seat in 2005.

Attorney Dana Wefer, who argued the case for Khan, says the court’s decision is significant.

“With the presidential election coming up, this is really good news for anyone who lives in a community association in New Jersey — that they can put up signs supporting their political candidate of choice without fear of reprisal from the association,” Wefer said.

Wefer says the ruling strikes a balance in maintaining the aesthetic uniformity of homeowner communities while allowing residents to express their free speech rights.

Frank Askin, director of the Constitutional Law Clinic at Rutgers/Newark, sees the ruling as a big victory for free speech in New Jersey.

“There are more than a million people who live in these common-interest communities, homeowners associations, property owners associations,” said Askin. “This is an important step forward for a huge chunk of the population of New Jersey who want to express their views on elections or other political issues in the state.”

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