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Supreme Court of the United States

Gentala v. City of Tucson

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • The right of Christian groups to receive city benefits on an equal basis with other groups.
  • The freedom of religious and conservative groups and individuals to use a public forum without being excluded by the government based on the group’s religious viewpoint.  

Summary

The City of Tucson waived its fees for certain city services (garbage collection, police, electricity, use of bandstands, etc.) for groups using city parks with only one exception: religious organizations could never obtain a waiver.  The chairpersons of Tucson National Day of Prayer (NDP) applied to use a city park for the NDP activities and were informed that they would need to pay for city services, despite the fact that all other users, including Planned Parenthood and homosexual advocacy groups, were allowed to use the parks and receive these services at no charge or reduced charges.

Alliance Defending Freedom initiated the lawsuit on behalf of the NDP organizers to obtain equal access to these benefits. To a nonprofit organization like NDP, these benefits are a significant financial help. The court ruled that the City of Tucson unconstitutionally discriminated against the National Day of Prayer event when it refused to allow NDP access to public park facilities on the same basis as other groups. It struck down the city policy and ordered Tucson to end discrimination against religious organizations in the provision of city services.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom provided both funding and litigation support, and eventually assumed the role as lead counsel. This ruling has served as precedent enabling Christian groups to receive access to public forums on an equal footing with other groups. 

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