[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]All Rev. Clyde Reed wanted to do was to help people find his Sunday church services at Good News Presbyterian in Gilbert, Arizona. So, he put signs up alongside the road. After all, businesses and politicians have long been allowed to use such signs to promote their business or campaign. But, Rev. Reed found himself to be a target of the Town of Gilbert who took exception to his signs. so he filed suit against the town in 2007.[/vc_column_text][banner300 banner=”5517620b381df”][vc_column_text]He was told that his signs were “directional signs” and, by town ordinance, could not be placed in the public right-of-way more than 12 hours before his services began. The size of the “directional” signs were also restricted by the city with restrictions far more stringent than that for business or campaign signs. So, Reed challenged the city and his case made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.
And he won.
Reed was represented, free of charge, in the case by the Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom, which describes itself on their website as “an alliance-building legal ministry that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.”
During a press conference following the Supreme Court decision, Reed said, “I’ve been a pastor for over 40 years, and believe me when I say I never dreamed my small church signs would be a topic for the U.S. Supreme Court. The government shouldn’t be able to treat our church’s religious speech worse than it treats other speech, like politicians’ speech.
The pastor added, “We weren’t asking for special treatment. We just didn’t want to get fined or go to jail over an unfair and unjust city law.”[/vc_column_text][banner300 banner=”553157113d3ff”][vc_column_text]The attorney for the Town of Gilbert, Michael Hamblin, said in response to the decision, “While today’s opinion reverses those decisions, we are hopeful it will provide some much-needed legal clarity to this area of the law, and that Gilbert, along with cities and towns across the country, can now make the necessary adjustments.”
On their website, Alliance Defending Freedom celebrated the victory and explaining what it means not just for the pastor in Gilbert, but for everyone.
In laying out the big picture of this ruling, they said the following.
A government that has the power to pick and choose which speech to allow and which to censor is a threat to all people who cherish freedom. The Supreme Court victory for Clyde and Ann Reed shows once again that the government cannot play favorites when it comes to speech—whether it agrees with it or not. We must remain vigilant in standing firm to defend our constitutional freedoms, and like Pastor Reed, be willing to speak up when the government crosses the line. Because if we don’t, who will?
The group says this has ramifications beyond Gilbert Arizona. This ruling by SCOTUS will have the following impact.
- Prohibits the government from discriminating against signs based on content
- Prohibits the government from valuing one type of speech over another.
- Protects religious speech from government censorship