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WOODBURY DAILY TIMES CO. v. TOWNSHIP OF MONROE
June 5, 1985
WOODBURY DAILY TIMES COMPANY, INC., a corporation of the State of New Jersey, Plaintiff,
TOWNSHIP OF MONROE, a municipal corporation of the State of New Jersey, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: GERRY
This case involves an ordinance of the Township of Monroe which limits the manner in which one may disseminate published materials.
This matter was before the court not long ago. The plaintiff, the publisher of an advertising periodical containing some news, sought to enjoin the enforcement of an ordinance which, in essence, restricted newsboys from indiscriminately throwing written materials other than pure newspapers on people's lawns. That ordinance suffered from one glaring infirmity: it was not content-neutral, as it made distinctions between non-commercial and commercial speech. We granted a temporary restraining order (TRO), which, by agreement of the parties, remained in force long past its expiration date.
That ordinance has now been superseded by a new ordinance, which was enacted on March 20, 1985 and took effect 20 days later. Whatever other problems this ordinance may have, this one appears to be content-neutral. The superseded ordinance gave "newspapers" an exemption; they could be distributed however the distributor chose. Under the new ordinance, newspapers share in the prescriptions and proscriptions borne by "circulars, . . . advertisements, commercial handbills, handbills, or the like."
Plaintiff still believes that the ordinance is unconstitutional and now seeks summary judgment: a declaration of the ordinance's infirmity and an injunction against enforcement. The plaintiff has amended its complaint to take into account the new ordinance.
The preamble to the new ordinance states that the ordinance is enacted with the goals of reducing or preventing burglary and vandalism and controlling litter. The ordinance then sets forth "Distribution Requirements":
Distribution . . . shall be accomplished in the following manner:
A. To individuals by handing such materials to them personally.
B. To dwelling houses, places of business or any other structure by placing such materials on the entranceway, on the porch, by the door or within the screen door or by placing such materials at or near the entranceway . . . so as to be readily observable by the occupant thereof upon entry to same.
C. Placed in a receptacle or delivery box designated to receive all such materials or a tube designated for a like purpose.
Subsection D then provides that distribution "in a manner inconsistent with Paragraph A through C . . . shall constitute a violation of this Ordinance." Subsection E then lists three types of distribution that are prohibited: (1) placing materials on sidewalks, lawns, etc., or other areas where such materials would be readily observable by passersby; (2) placing materials so as to "contribute or cause the accumulation of such materials that would indicate to . . . passersby that such dwelling . . . is vacant or ...
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