‘Your homeowner’s association shall make no law…’ 

I don’t really like talking about things in terms of “rights.” It seems more helpful to talk about duties and prohibitions. In other words, rather than talking about a “right to life,” it makes more sense to me to say “you may not intentionally take the life of an innocent person.”

So, do you have a “right” to fly a flag from your house? I’d rather say, the government may not prohibit you from flying a flag from your house.

The distinction becomes relevant in the story of Andy McDonel:

Andy McDonel wants to fly the Gadsden (“Don’t Tread on Me”) flag from the roof of his house in Laveen, Arizona, and the state chapter of the ACLU says he is entitled to do so. The problem: McDonel is not fighting an intrusive local ordinance or boneheaded state law; he is fighting the rules of his own homeowners’ association, rules that he accepted when he bought his house. As the lawyer for the Avalon Village Community Association notes, “anyone considering residing in a community association should carefully review the association’s governing documents beforehand to ensure that the community is a good fit for them.”

I gotta say, I side with the HOA in the lawsuit, although, were I on the HOA, I’d liberalize the rules about flags.

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Timothy P. Carney

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