Monday, December 29, 2014

A town's attempt to restrict church advertising goes to SCOTUS

A small church relies on temporary signs to invite and direct worshipers to its services. However practical, the pastor’s goal ran up against a town’s strict limitations on the size of signs, the number that can be posted and for how long.

The town officials of Gilbert, Ariz., however, don’t impose those same restrictions on political and ideological messages or on signs put up by homeowner associations.

Good News Presbyterian Church rents space in various places for weekly services in Gilbert. Because the church changes locations regularly, Pastor Clyde Reed promotes his services with cardboard signs posted on the lawn of the latest site.

Reed must adhere to Gilbert’s sign regulations, which the town says were designed to promote “optimum conditions for serving sign owners’ needs and respecting their rights to identification while balancing the aesthetic interests of the community.”

The church’s signs, along with signs for other non-profit, event-related activities can be only six square feet in size, displayed for no more than 14 hours and are limited to four per property.

Reed’s lawyer, David Cortman, is affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom, an organization that seeks to protect the religious rights of individuals. Cortman says the town’s sign code is a form of discrimination that allows the government to decide what speech is more valuable and thus granted greater protection under the First Amendment.

“Speech discrimination is speech discrimination,” Cortman says in a press release on the case.

In a phone interview with The Daily Signal, Michael Hamblin, a lawyer for the town of Gilbert, dismisses the accusation. Hamblin says the town’s restrictions don’t violate the First Amendment.

Hamblin says he is confident the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the town, as did the District Court of Arizona and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  But, he adds, “even if it doesn’t, the town will be happy to receive any guidance that the Supreme Court has.”

Cortman will make oral arguments for Reed and his church before the Supreme Court, Jan. 12, in Washington, D.C.



slinky said...

Why do churches think that they should get special treatment from everybody else?

Dean said...

Read the source article. You will find the 'special treatment' that bothers you is being the only organization in town held to the regulation. Home owner groups and political signs stay up as long as they wish, and appear to be larger than six square feet.

Anonymous said...

So this isn't free speech, but inciting mobs of thugs to violence is?

slinky said...

Dean, if you read my post, I used the terms "churches", not the specific church in the article. This wording makes it a general statement. Clearly, any educated person would see this.

stinky said...

Oh Slinky,

Then per your own words, your comment relates this church as a specific example of what other churches are doing generally - at least in your mind.

But this church wasn't doing that at all, making you wrong both specifically and generally. You might wanna think a little longer before typing next time.

\but thanks for trying to pick a name that looks like mine. Confirms I'm in your head ... and I wasn't even trying. Too easy.

Bird of Paradise said...

Sounds like Gilbert city officials needs a lesson in humility and so dose slinkly

Anonymous said...

stinky, you make no f.u.c.k.i.n.g sense.

stinky said...


Timestamps don't lie. It only took you 48 hours to come up with your witty riposte.

Congrats on the improvement!