NJ Ct. Says Ass’n Rule Prohibiting Distribution of Campaign Materials Violates State Constitution

New Jersey Supreme Court decision (December 3, 2014).

This case involved a co-op common interest community (residents by shares of the building) governed by a board of directors. The governing documents, consisting of bylaws and rules, bar the placement of items like newsletters under residents’ doors. The residents are permitted to distribute materials at two annual board meetings that shareholders attend and they can also send documents to fellow shareholders by regular mail, at a cost of more than $200 per mailing. In addition, residents may seek the Board’s approval to place signs or notices in the building, but there are no written guidelines to channel the Board’s discretion. A resident who happened to be a critic of the building’s Board of Directors, was interested in running for a Board seat and asked the Board if he could distribute campaign materials in the building. That request was denied and the resident brought suit to compel the board to allow him to distribute his campaign materials to other residents.

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