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Reed v. Town of Gilbert

Reed v. Town of Gilbert

Won U.S. Supreme Court
Last Updated 8/10/2022

What's at stake

The ability of the government to censor religious speech

The ability of the government to choose to value one type of speech over another

The freedom of churches to place signs inviting people to their services and activities on equal terms with other non-commercial signs

Summary

Good News Community Church, led by Pastor Clyde Reed, is a small church in Gilbert, Arizona. Because it meets in temporary locations, the church depends on the use of small, temporary signs to invite and direct the community to its services.

The Town of Gilbert, however, severely restricted signs in terms of their size and time of display, while permitting a wide array of other signs with much more lenient guidelines In fact, to comply with Gilbert's sign code, Pastor Reed was forced to put signs up well after the sun was down, and leave swiftly after the service's conclusion to take the signs down. A failure to comply could lead to fines or jail time.

ADF represented Pastor Reed at the U.S. Supreme Court in a case argued by Senior Counsel David Cortman. The Court ruled 9-0 in favor of Pastor Reed, setting a powerful precedent when it held that Gilbert's sign code violated free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.


This victory protects the right of some 350,000 congregations throughout the country to offer a message of hope to their communities—and set a precedent that can be used to defend all types of speech, from passing out flyers to speaking in public. This decision is even being used to challenge unconstitutional speech zones on college campuses, and to defend the rights of Christians to speak in the public square on the same terms as everyone else.

 

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Church and Pastor Reed in defense of their rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. 

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
U.S. Supreme Court
6/18/2015
U.S. Supreme Court
9/22/2014
U.S. Supreme Court
9/22/2014
U.S. Supreme Court
9/22/2014
U.S. Supreme Court
9/22/2014
U.S. Supreme Court
10/21/2013
Appellate Court
2/23/2013
Trial Court
1/10/2008

Additional 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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Jeremy Tedesco
Jeremy Tedesco
Senior Counsel, Senior Vice President of Corporate Engagement
Jeremy Tedesco serves as senior counsel and senior vice president of communications for Alliance Defending Freedom.
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David A. Cortman
David A. Cortman
Senior Counsel, Vice President of U.S. Litigation
David A. Cortman serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom.