PHOENIX — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund have appealed a federal judge’s decision to allow enforcement of a problematic sign ordinance in the town of Gilbert while the lawsuit moves forward in court. After initially agreeing not to enforce the provisions of its code that discriminated against churches, the city amended its code in January in a way that did not fix any of the code’s constitutional flaws.
“Churches should not be singled out for discrimination by a city’s sign ordinances,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “The First Amendment requires the town to treat church signs the same as similar nonreligious signs, which the town’s amended code does not do. We are appealing because this ordinance certainly should not be enforced while litigation continues. The city should respect the constitutional rights of our client.”
In May 2007, in response to an ADF lawsuit filed on behalf of Good News Presbyterian Church, the town of Gilbert agreed to a preliminary injunction prohibiting it from enforcing its sign code against the church, which required church signs to be smaller in size, fewer in number, and displayed for much less time than similar nonreligious signs. The town passed an amended code, which continues to treat religious signs far less favorably than similar commercial and noncommercial signs.
ADF attorneys then amended their complaint and filed a new motion for preliminary injunction to block implementation of the amended code while the lawsuit moves forward in court. On Sept. 30, a judge declined to grant the injunction, and ADF attorneys are now appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
“The town’s amended code continues to restrict the First Amendment rights of churches,” said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “We trust that the 9th Circuit will understand the need for those rights to remain in tact since we believe that the law clearly supports our position.”
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.