CASEReed v. Town of Gilbert

Client Story
Clyde and Ann Reed

Pastor Clyde Reed wasn’t always a pastor. Up until the age of 40, he made a living as an engineer, but then something changed. Feeling God’s call in his life, Clyde entered seminary seeking to become a full-time pastor. Now over 80 years old, Clyde and his wife, Ann, have been married for 56 years with three children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. They’ve planted several churches in the U.S. and came to Arizona after a family member asked them to start a church in the Town of Gilbert.

 

Through Good News Community Church, the Reeds’ primary mission is to serve the local community by visiting hospitals, senior living centers, Alzheimer's centers, and more. They provide luncheons and throw parties to bring joy and comfort to people who are in a vulnerable state in their lives. They also ministered to a woman after she lost her husband shortly after visiting the church. And how did she find the church? Because of its signs.  

As a small church in Gilbert, Arizona, each week Good News Community Church rents space in a temporary location and uses small, temporary signs to invite and direct the community to those services.

While the Town of Gilbert’s sign code broadly permits a dizzying array of political, ideological, and other types of signs, it severely restricts signs inviting people to a church’s services. These restrictions impose strict limits on the size, location, number, and duration of the church’s signs. Under the code, political signs can be up to 32 square feet and displayed for 5 months, but church signs can only be 6 feet and displayed for a mere 12 hours prior to the service and 1 hour afterwards.

This means that the church can’t put up its signs until 9:00 p.m. because its services are at 9:00 a.m. on Sundays. Therefore, not only is the church’s sign hard to read because it’s so small, it’s also dark outside for much of the time it’s up. It also means that after the church service, Pastor Reed must choose between picking up his signs to avoid enforcement of the code or ministering to his congregation and facing punishment from the Town of Gilbert, which could include fines or even jail time.

ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman argued to the Supreme Court that restricting signs based on their content is discrimination and violates free speech protections granted by the First Amendment.  The Court ruled in favor of Pastor Reed in a landmark decision, finding that the town's sign code is indeed content discrimination.  While the town tried to justify its actions on the basis of aesthetics and safety, this argument failed because they restricted signs like Pastor Reed's but not others.



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Summary
Alliance Defending Freedom represents Pastor Clyde Reed and Good News Community Church, a small church located in Gilbert, Ariz. The church uses small, temporary signs to invite and direct the community to its services. The town of Gilbert's sign code imposes strict limits on the size, location, number, and duration of the church’s signs. It does not impose the same restrictions on political, ideological, and homeowners’ association signs.
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https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---u-s-supreme-court-opinion.pdf?sfvrsn=8https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---u-s-supreme-court-oral-argument-transcript.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petitioners-39-reply-brief-filed-with-u-s-supreme-court.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-christian-legal-society-and-others.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-family-research-council.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-justice-and-freedom-fund.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-liberty-counsel-national-hispanic-christian-leadership-council.pdf?sfvrsn=16https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-missouri-baptist-convention-christian-life-commission.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-pacific-legal-foundation.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-robert-wilson-kelly-kickinson-jim-roos-kim-houghton-bill-main-tonia-edwards-candace-kagan-mary-lacoste-joycelyn-cole-annette-watt.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief--general-conference-of-seventh-day-adventists.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-american-center-for-law-and-justice.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-united-states.pdf?sfvrsn=14https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-wv-ga-ks-mi-mt-ne-ok-sc-tx-ut.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-the-becket-fund-for-religious-liberty.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petitioners-39-opening-brief-filed-with-u-s-supreme-court.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---reply-brief-filed-with-u-s-supreme-court-in-support-of-granting-writ-of-certiorari.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-ashutosh-bhagwat-eric-freedman-richard-garnett-seth-kreimer-nadine-strossen-william-van-alstyne-james-weinstein.pdf?sfvrsn=12https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petition-for-review-en-banc.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---9th-circuit-panel-decision-and-dissent.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---9th-circuit-opinion-on-preliminary-injunction.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amended-complaint.pdf?sfvrsn=10https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/web-content-dev/docs/default-source/documents/case-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---stipulated-preliminary-injunction-order.pdf?sfvrsn=10
Court Title Date
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court opinion Jun 18 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court oral argument transcript Jan 12 2015
U.S. Supreme Court
Petitioners' reply brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court Dec 15 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Christian Legal Society and Others Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Family Research Council Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Justice and Freedom Fund Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Liberty Counsel, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Pacific Legal Foundation Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Robert Wilson, Kelly Kickinson, Jim Roos, Kim Houghton, Bill Main, Tonia Edwards, Candace Kagan, Mary Lacoste, Joycelyn Cole, Annette Watt Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-American Center for Law and Justice Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-United States Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-WV, GA, KS, MI, MT, NE, OK, SC, TX, UT Sep 22 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Sep 20 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Petitioners' opening brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court Sep 15 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Reply brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court in support of granting writ of certiorari Mar 05 2014
U.S. Supreme Court
Amicus brief-Ashutosh Bhagwat, Eric Freedman, Richard Garnett, Seth Kreimer, Nadine Strossen, William Van Alstyne, James Weinstein Nov 19 2013
Appellate Court
Petition for writ of certiorari Oct 21 2013
Appellate Court
Petition for review en banc Feb 22 2013
Appellate Court
9th Circuit panel decision and dissent Feb 08 2013
Appellate Court
9th Circuit opinion on preliminary injunction Nov 20 2009
Trial Court
Amended complaint Jan 10 2008
Trial Court
Stipulated preliminary injunction order May 07 2007

Commentary

Resources

David Cortman: An important blow for free speech (National Review, 2015-06-23)

Jeremy Tedesco: Little church, little signs, big decision (Arizona Republic, 2015-06-22)

SCOTUSblog docket page: Reed v. Town of Gilbert

Video: Supreme Court: Govt cannot judge speech based on how 'worthy' it is.

Biographies

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