Freedom of Speech & Expression

REED v. TOWN OF GILBERT, 135 S. Ct. 2218 (2015)

Argued:
January 12, 2015
Decided:
June 18, 2015
Decided by:
Roberts Court, 2014
Action:
Reversed and remanded. Petitioning party received a favorable disposition.

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CASE INFO

Facts/Syllabus:
Gilbert, Arizona (Town), has a comprehensive code (Sign Code or Code) that prohibits the display of outdoor signs without a permit, but exempts 23 categories of signs, including three relevant here. “Ideological Signs,” defined as signs “communicating a message or ideas” that do not fit in any other Sign Code category, may be up to 20 square feet and have no placement or time restrictions. “Political Signs,” defined as signs “designed to influence the outcome of an election,” may be up to 32 square feet and may only be displayed during an election season. “Temporary Directional Signs,” defined as signs directing the public to a church or other “qualifying event,” have even greater restrictions: No more than four of the signs, limited to six square feet, may be on a single property at any time, and signs may be displayed no more than 12 hours before the “qualifying event” and 1 hour after. Petitioners, Good News Community Church (Church) and its pastor, Clyde Reed, whose Sunday church services are held at various temporary locations in and near the Town, posted signs early each Saturday bearing the Church name and the time and location of the next service and did not remove the signs until around midday Sunday. The Church was cited for exceeding the time limits for displaying temporary directional signs and for failing to include an event date on the signs. Unable to reach an accommodation with the Town, petitioners filed suit, claiming that the Code abridged their freedom of speech.

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Topics: Content Neutrality, Freedom of Speech & Expression

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