Arizona town discriminates against church signs
SAN FRANCISCO — Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel David Cortman and Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco will be available for media interviews immediately following oral arguments Friday before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in Reed v. Town of Gilbert. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys represent Good News Community Church of Gilbert, Ariz., in the church’s lawsuit over the Phoenix suburb’s flawed sign ordinance.
“A city’s sign ordinances shouldn’t burden churches with restrictions that don’t apply equally to all similar signs,” said Tedesco, who will argue before the court on behalf of the church. “The government cannot require churches to abide by these stricter rules when it doesn’t place them on all other non-commercial signs that are comparable in nature. The Constitution prohibits that kind of discrimination.”
In May 2007, in response to Alliance Defending Freedom’s lawsuit, the town of Gilbert agreed to a preliminary injunction prohibiting it from enforcing its sign code against the church. The code required that church signs be smaller in size, fewer in number, and displayed for much less time than similar non-religious signs. The town then passed an amended code that continued to discriminate against churches.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed an amended complaint and new motion for preliminary injunction against the revised code. In September 2008, a judge declined to grant the injunction, and Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys appealed to the 9th Circuit.
The court sent the case back to the district court, finding that “the district court did not address Good News’ claim that the ordinance unfairly discriminates among forms of noncommercial speech.” The district court again ruled in favor of the city, and Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys again appealed to the 9th Circuit.
“The government cannot pick and choose which non-commercial signs will be subject to greater bureaucracy or regulation,” said Tedesco. “We trust the 9th Circuit will agree.”
- Fact sheet on the case
- Pronunciation guide: Tedesco (Tuh-DESS’ko)