ADF to defend free speech at US Supreme Court Monday
Attorney sound bite: David Cortman
ADF attorneys representing Good News Community Church in Gilbert, Ariz. filed a brief last month with the high court that answered the arguments of the town, which wants to continue applying stricter rules to church signs than it does to political and other noncommercial signs because it claims it has a good motive for its discrimination against church speech. Many are watching the case because of the implications it could have on free speech broadly. The church’s pastor, Clyde Reed, will provide his only public statement at the press conference.
The lawsuit, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, asks the Supreme Court to end a free speech test used by some courts that allows the government to decide what speech is more valuable and thus entitled to greater protection under the First Amendment. The test improperly excuses unlawful discrimination so long as the government says its motive is good. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit used that test to determine that Good News Community Church’s religious signs are far less valuable than what the town calls “political” and “ideological” signs, thereby justifying the town’s strict limits on the church’s signs.
Under the Arizona town of Gilbert’s ordinance, political signs can be up to 32 square feet, displayed for many months, and unlimited in number. An ideological sign can be up to 20 square feet, displayed indefinitely, and unlimited in number. The church’s signs and some other non-profit, event-related signs can only be six square feet, may be displayed for no more than 14 hours, and are limited to four per property.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.