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New Jersey Court Bars Property Pact Directed Against Jews, Negroes

March 20, 1967
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Appellate Division of the New Jersey State Superior Court ruled yesterday that a property covenant used by a country club in Wayne Township, allegedly created to bar Jews and Negroes, was unlawful.

The decision was contained in a dismissal by the Appellate Division of an appeal in a suit charging discrimination against the Packanack Lake Country Club and Community Association. The suit was brought several years ago by two couples, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Conover and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mooney who, as members of the Association, owned homes in the area. Homes in Packanack Lake range in price from $25, 000 to $75, 000. The section has its own school and golf course.

The two couples charged that the Association barred anyone from membership, and thus home ownership, who did not have a northern European Christian background, thus allegedly excluding Negroes, Jews, Puerto Ricans and similar groups. By this technique, the plaintiffs contended, the club got around a 20-year-old United States Supreme Court ban on covenants which discriminate specifically against racial and religious groups. The covenant requires that prospective property owners in the section must be approved first as members of the club.

Early this month, a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division ruled that the clause of the covenant barring the minority groups was “null and void” but reserved decision on whether the ruling was to be applied to the Packanack Lake community at large, to a group of 17 previous defendants or to the two originally suing families.

In the opinion handed down yesterday, Judge Milton Conford cited previous decisions banning restrictive covenants and wrote: “There is no doubt that these decisions are sound and that, based upon them and the long-standing common law principles that underlie them, the New Jersey courts would not sustain the validity or enforceability of the covenants here involved.”

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