Case Name: Reed v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona
On Monday, January 12, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the case of whether a local town ordinance violates the First Amendment rights of churches when the ordinance limits the size, quantity, and duration of church signs when political signs are not similarly limited. Attorneys for the town of Gilbert, Arizona have argued that the ordinance is not discriminatory because all non-commercial event signs have the same restrictions. Attorneys for Clyde Reed, the pastor of the Good News Presbyterian Church argued that just because the city claims the ordinance appears to be facially neutral toward religious free speech does not mean that it is actually neutral.
Even though the facts involving sign regulation may appear relatively simple, the ramifications are much broader. Here, the town of Gilbert has made one rule for political signs and one rule for all other non-commercial signs.
After the argument, Reed gave a prepared statement outside the Court. “The whole experience has been shocking to me — our signs inviting people to church are very important yet are treated as second-class speech. We aren’t asking for speical treatment; we just want our town to stop favoring the speech of others over ours.”
Case materials and briefs, including the amicus curiae brief of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which addressed the issue in the context of door-to-door proselytizing, are available at Scotusblog.com.