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ARTICLES FROM THE ARCHIVES This article is the first in a special six-part series commemorating the 50th anniversary of the National Club Association.

Over the years, NCA has kept the private club industry informed, engaged and protected from legislative, regulatory and legal issues that threatened the rights and privileges of private clubs. The first article in the series covers the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1988 regarding public accommodation

and a club’s First Amendment right. Articles on this topic first appeared in the September 1988 issue of Perspective, the predecessor of Club Director. Additional excerpts are from the August and September 1989 issues (Note: August was the transition issue in magazine titles—see cover treatments below and on pages 27 and 30). This look to the past reminds us of the broad scope and ramifications of our industry’s First Amendment Right of free-

dom of association. Though more than twenty years have passed, this issue looms large in present day threats against private clubs’ rights to association. We hope you enjoy reading these historic article excerpts and recognize that club eaders must continue to safeguard privacy rights.



Editor’s Note: The following article summarizes guidelines formulated in a more detailed analysis authored by former NCA President Fred L. Somers, Jr.

imposed restrictions and requirements, including serving all who seek entry. Forty-one states have public accommodation laws. New York City L.L. (ordinance) 63 has become


the model of such legislation proposed through- out the country. In New York State Club Association v. New York City, the NYSCA, sup- ported by NCA, argued that L.L. 63 was invalid on its face, because it did not allow clubs to estab-

he most common threat to a private club is likely that of a state or city legislature passing a law declaring it to be a “public accommodation.” Such action would usu- ally subject the club to a panoply of state-

lish that they were protected from its effect by the constitutional right of free association. At the last minute, the city conceded that the law must be interpreted to preserve constitutional rights. The Supreme Court found that the law was not uncon- stitutional on its face, but that more was needed to be proven before a club’s freedom of associa- tion right could be limited. (See sidebar with Justice O’Connor’s opinion.) The question remains as to how such legislation

can be applied without trespassing on the freedom of association. Consequently, responding to this leg- islation requires dual considerations—avoiding the impact of the law and, if that is not feasible, posi- tioning the club to claim constitutional protections which negate the law. (See Sidebars “How Public Accommodation Laws Affect Privacy Rights” and “Can Clubs Resist the Power of the State?”)



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